City of Chico gets tips on how to ultilize airport


CHICO, Calif. - A former county supervisor from Sonoma County was invited by the Chico Chamber of Commerce to give advice on how to make Chico's Airport a vital part in the community.

Studies conducted by Chico's Airport Commission said that some residents don't even realize there are commercial flights that come out of the airport. The are three flights from United Express that go to back and forth from Chico to San Francisco everyday.

Each flight can carry about 30 people and according to the Airport Commission only half those flights are full. Most passengers go to Sacramento International Airport, but the City of Chico wants to change that so they brought in some outside help. "Our game plan was to enhance of what we have and really grow it," said former Sonoma County Supervisor, Paul Kelley. "So we went after a marketing campaign to educate our community that there was commercial air service." Fourteen years ago, Kelley's community was facing the same situation. In fact, Sonoma County's airport was one of the 40 West Coast community airports that shut down after 9/11. "It woke up the community and said oh my gosh we actually had air service," said Kelley. "I should have been using it and I can't believe they are gone." Kelley and his community brought the airport back. They started informing businesses about the services their airport provided. "They didn't have to drive two hours to get to an airport. They can actually drive 10-15 minutes and get on an airplane and fly to LAX or where ever from there," said Kelley. Kelley said Sonoma County saw a $134 million economic impact, and it provided 496 local jobs. "I think those factors are things they can use here and actually help enhance their service," said Kelley. "It could potentially new carriers and enhances the carrier they have." "It is less reliable and one of the reasons because they are so few flights," said Chico resident, Greg Fisher. "I would like to see something change and expansion of the service."

After the meeting, the Airport Commission took suggestions from those who attended. The commission said they will present a proposal to the city after they go over all of the suggestions.