Chico to review cost of losing commercial flights


CHICO, Calif. - To get a better picture at what it would mean if United Airlines were to stop serving the Chico Airport, the airport commission asked city staff Tuesday night to compile a full report on what potential financial losses would be.

Chico Municipal Airport has been operating at a loss for some time, with many travelers choosing to head to Sacramento for air service.

Diminishing ridership threatens commercial service to the city, and United Airline--the only flyer into and out of Chico--isn't on contract and could end service at any time.

Although there's no real indication on the horizon, United has recently stopped serving Klamath Falls, Ore., and Modesto.

With that in mind, local travel expert Greg Fischer petitioned the Chico Airport Commission to look at what the financial cost would be, suggesting in an email it may help the business community to understand what the consequences would be and therefore get on a bandwagon to revitalize the airport.

Airport commission chairperson Thomas Nolan-Gosling said it's all about gathering information.

"It's going to provide the airport commission with some hard numbers--financial numbers--that we can look at so we can make an honest truthful determination of the impact of the loss of air service would have to not only the airport but to the City of Chico and our citizens," he said.

A rough estimate running of numbers by interim Assistant City Manager Chris Constantin shows the city faces to lose from $120,000 to $150,000 a year in revenue from, among other things, fees paid to them by United and taxes on fuel.

He says that preliminary number doesn't take into account losses of federal grants that may be tied to commercial flights.

The full report is scheduled to be presented before the airport commission at their October meeting.

In what could be a move to help get the airport on the right track, it was also mentioned at Tuesday's meeting that the city is in the final stages of hiring a contractor to manage the airport, specific expertise city staff lacks.

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