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SLO County airport working to add new flights to 2 major cities

A United Express flight at San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. The airport is working to add new routes to Portland and Dallas in 2018.
A United Express flight at San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. The airport is working to add new routes to Portland and Dallas in 2018. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport officials are working to add new nonstop flights to Portland and Dallas in 2018.

“The discussions are active with the airlines, but there’s no commitment,” Airport Director Kevin Bumen said. “We’ve done forecasting and assessments, and we’re actively pursuing those destinations.”

It’s been a big year for the small airport.

A new $39.5 million terminal is scheduled to open Nov. 1 that will offer more services like a bar, shopping and grab-and-go food.

According to current schedules, a United Airlines flight from Denver will be the first to arrive at the new terminal at 8:53 p.m. The first to depart from the terminal will head to Los Angeles at 5:30 a.m. Nov. 2.

An upswing in customers helped entice airlines to offer two new destinations. United Airlines began nonstop flights to Denver in June, and Alaska Airlines started service to Seattle in April — adding to existing routes to Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Passenger numbers are expected to continue to rise, which may encourage airlines to consider adding flights. Administrators expect 450,000 passengers to pass through the airport in the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport's new $39.5 million terminal is expected to be complete and open for incoming flights Nov. 1, 2017. Here's a look at the inside and outside of the new building in a SLO County promotional video.

Other destinations like Las Vegas, Sacramento, Salt Lake City or San Diego are “in the realm of possibility,” Bumen said.

Beyond that, options for new destinations are limited due to the industry’s current model that doesn’t support flights from one small market to another.

“It’s all hub and spoke right now. We’re a spoke, and we’ll fly to a hub,” Bumen said.

Monica Vaughan: 805-781-7930, @MonicaLVaughan

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