Nonstop flights to Seattle coming to SLO County airport

The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport.
The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Alaska Airlines will begin nonstop service from San Luis Obispo to Seattle in April.

“It’s a nice bit of good news for our local economy,” San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill said Tuesday.

“One of the areas we all know we have the opportunity to enhance here is our technology sector, and Seattle is a big tech area,” he said, adding that Amazon employees who work in San Luis Obispo helped airport, business and public officials recruit the Seattle-based airline.

“We expect it to be a popular flight” for both tech employees and those flying to the Northwest, Hill said.

The daily flight to and from Seattle will start April 13, according to the Alaska Airlines website. A flight will leave Seattle at 8 a.m., arriving in San Luis Obispo at 10:28 a.m. A flight will then depart San Luis Obispo at noon, arriving in Seattle at 2:35 p.m. The lowest airfare on the website was $149 each way.

Kevin Bumen, general manager of the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, and Mike Manchak, president and CEO of the Economic Vitality Corp., a nonprofit economic development organization, both declined to comment Tuesday.

A news conference on the announcement was scheduled for Wednesday morning.

The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport has been in discussions with several airlines to expand daily flights in recent years. The goal has been to obtain additional service to markets to the east, such as Denver, Salt Lake City and Dallas, as well as to Northwest cities such as Seattle.

The airport, with support from the EVC and public officials, has visited airlines and conducted local surveys, primarily among business owners, to document support for specific markets.

In February, American Airlines began offering an additional evening flight from the San Luis Obispo airport to Phoenix. That brought the number of daily flights offered by American Airlines to four and the total number of daily flights from the airport to 11.

SkyWest Airlines, which operates locally as United Express, offers seven daily flights: four to Los Angeles and three to San Francisco.

Monthly airport passenger traffic has been growing since February compared with the year-earlier periods, according to information on the airport’s website. Passenger traffic reached 23,147 people in February, 27,558 in March, 26,292 in April and 29,962 in May. Last year, 292,462 people flew into and out of the airport, down 3.4 percent from 302,652 in 2014.

A $35.4 million new terminal for the airport is under construction. The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors approved the construction in August, citing the importance of the airport to the county’s tourism and business industries. The airport has a $177 million economic impact in the county, Manchak has said.