SLO airport officials to meet with SkyWest on proposed Denver flight

jlynem@thetribunenews.comMarch 19, 2014 

Travelers enter the terminal at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport officials and community stakeholders plan to meet next month with SkyWest Airlines in St. George, Utah, to persuade the airline to offer flights to and from Denver.

Discussions have been ongoing with SkyWest, which operates the airport’s United Airlines flights, to establish daily service between San Luis Obispo and Denver. Airport and business leaders say that such a flight would make it easier for travelers trying to reach the East Coast.

Kevin Bumen, the airport’s general manager, said it’s a follow-up to a December meeting at United’s headquarters in Chicago. As a result of that meeting, the airport began the process of updating a study showing various aspects of the airport’s service market.

The market study is a working internal document and has yet to be released publicly, Bumen said. “It’s far from over at this point,” he said of the talks with airline partners. “These things take time.”

Airlines are “risk averse,” he said, and “have a long legacy of being challenged on difficult routes.” They want to make sure the route will be successful before they invest in it, he added.

Even so, airport officials and stakeholders will do what they can to make their case.

“At the end of the day, the decision is entirely on them,” Bumen said. “What we have to continue to do is tell the story of both the viability of the market and the need for service, and the package that the community has put together to help support the service.”

So far, roughly $2.1 million in pledges have been given to get the Denver flight off the ground. The funds have come primarily from regional businesses, as well as the federal government, and the county, which allocated $212,500 to support a two-year revenue guarantee.

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