Central Coast travelers will have another option for Bay Area trips this fall.
Starting Sept. 1, SkyWest Airlines, which operates locally as United Express, will
offer a third round-trip flight from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco, according to Philip D’Acri, business development manager of San Luis Obispo County airports. And the timing of most existing flights will change.
With the new schedule, San Francisco-bound flights will leave San Luis Obispo at 6:20 a.m., 1:40 p.m. and 9 p.m., and they will fly from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo at 9:54 a.m., 1:10 p.m. and 8:18 p.m.
United Express flights currently depart San Luis Obispo at 6:20 a.m. and 8:44 p.m. and return from San Francisco at 10:09 a.m. and 11:49 p.m.
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“We’re very excited,” said Kevin Bumen, director of airports for San Luis Obispo County. “This really is a nice addition to our current flight schedule.”
The airline offers three daily flights to Los Angeles and two to San Francisco, according to the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport.
US Airways offers three daily flights to Phoenix, expanding to four during the summer months to accommodate additional travelers.
In April, the San Luis Obispo airport lost about 8 percent of its available seats when SkyWest switched from 28-passenger turboprop commuter planes to 50-seat jets. That meant the loss of six daily flights to and from Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Also in April, the airport hosted the Sixel Airport Conference, run by airport consulting services firm Sixel Consulting Group Inc., which brought together analysts and managers from 15 airlines and 36 airports.
“The conference certainly was a contributing factor” in SkyWest’s decision to boost service from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco, Bumen said, but it wasn’t the only one.
Bumen said the airport is working diligently on adding more flights and destinations, with a focus on connecting service to Denver and Seattle.
“If we’re filling the flights we have, that’s a key indicator to the airlines that we can grow,” he said.
Last year, 302,652 people flew into and out of San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, compared with 272,268 in 2013. From January through April this year, 94,801 travelers had used the airport.
“We still haven’t hit (our) prerecession peak, but it’s foreseeable, with an additional flight or two, (that) we will get there,” Bumen said.