Tag: airport

Alaska Airlines adding flights to LAX from Fresno

Just a quick post to share some news from Fresno2Minneapolis on Twitter. Starting in September, Alaska Airlines will begin service twice a day between Fresno and Los Angeles! The flight will be on an Embraer RJ-175, operated by Skywest.

If all goes as planned, they would join American Airlines and United on this route. Note that due to COVID-19, those flights are currently not operating. However, if they come back as before, there would be 10 daily flights between the two cities.

The flight schedule, (assuming no more Coronavirus changes) from Fresno to LAX would be as follows:

6:00 AA
6:20 UA
7:30 Alaska
8:01 UA
11:55 AA
13:55 UA
14:00 Alaska
16:10 AA
17:57 UA
19:15 AA Click to read more!

United brings mainline service back to Fresno

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Passengers boarding a flight in Fresno

About a year ago, I took a look at air service available from Fresno Air Terminal (FAT). In that post, the news wasn’t good. Fresno had lost service to Las Vegas by US Airways and United, leaving only Allegiant. Allegiant dropped Honolulu, but added Mesa (Pheonix), which they apparently are no longer selling tickets for (as of last week!). Frontier left, again. Bakersfield lost Houston, and Visalia lost all service. The switch away from propeller airplanes meant Fresno got larger planes – but less frequency.=&0=&

Fresno air service still more limited than peer cities

A few years ago, I though Fresno Air Terminal (FAT) was prime for the addition of new flights, especially as the economy picked up. Jetblue was, and still is, rapidly growing. Virgin America was ready to compete with big plans. Southwest was continuing its slow-but-steady expansion into more and more cities, and disruptive airlines like Spirit were popping up. Surely new service to Houston, Chicago, and maybe Atlanta was coming to Fresno sooner rather than later.

Yet here we are in 2016, and the only innovative or low-cost airline to serve Fresno is Allegiant Air, an airline that surprisingly was founded and headquartered in Fresno before leaving for Vegas. At one point, they offered service from Fresno to Reno, Portland, Lake Tahoe, and Long Beach. They served Hawaii from Fresno in 2012, but mostly abandoned that market in 2014. Today, from Fresno, they only serve Las Vegas and Mesa, Arizona (new for this year).

The other low cost airline to serve Fresno, Frontier, left in January of 2015. They also stopped serving Bakersfield. They flew to Denver from both markets.

Indeed, Bakersfield and Visalia have also lost service. The long-standing Bakersfield-Houston flight, established by Continental, ended earlier this year (which prompted this post). Visalia now has no air service at all, after being an Essential Air Market with flights to LAX or Burbank. Last year, you could have flown from Visalia to San Diego via a quick stop in LAX for $69. Today, you’d have to own your own plane.

Of note, Merced still has air service. After losing Great Lakes (the same airline that served Visalia) they found a replacement in “Boutique Air” which serves LAX and Oakland, also for $69. However, the turnover for these tiny airlines is very quick. Visalia quit the commercial game because they went through 3 providers in 3 years and it was no longer worth the hassle. Merced might be next.

The legacy airline that have served the Valley continue to do so, but with less options. A big reason is because they’ve abandoned propeller aircraft, which are cheaper to operate. Instead, they now all use small jets. Sure, they’re larger, faster, and quieter, but the change has meant United no longer serves Las Vegas from Fresno and they only operate two flights a day to LAX.

Twice a day to LAX, is quite frankly, crazy.

Fresno does have two airlines serving Guadalajara, but the rumored service to Mexico City only  emerged as a Christmas charter flight.

All these changes have made flying to and from Fresno harder than ever. Already an expensive airport, less options has meant higher prices, and more trouble when delays cause a connection to be missed. Everyone who flies into Fresno frequently has experience with either being forced to spend a night elsewhere or renting a car from LAX or SFO to actually arrive. While fog can be to blame in the winter (or when going to SFO), most of the time it’s because the plane scheduled for Fresno is diverted to serve another scheduled flight, leaving Fresno travelers high and dry.

Only Alaska has grown in Fresno, such as by offering service to San Diego. They’ve also recently purchased Virgin America, and taken big steps to increase their West Coast presence. If any airline is to add service to Fresno in the next few years, it would almost certainly be them.

This LA Times article from Sunday talks about Alaska’s expansion.  What I found interesting is how they call Southwest “California’s airline” because apparently they carry more California passengers than anybody else. Not to Fresno though.

What is especially disappointing is that Southwest and Jetblue have continued to expand into smaller and smaller markets, but not Fresno.

Jetblue now serves Reno from New York City, and is planning service from Reno to Long Beach.

In fact, let’s take a look at our peer cities to see how Fresno compares. I chose cities similar in size to Fresno (by metropolitan area), and similar in importance. I ignored all of Florida because you can’t walk 5 feet without coming across an international airport served by 200 airlines (aka, the tourism factor). Basically, average cities that are a good distance from the nearest major metropolitan area. I also looked at Burlington, Vermont, as it gets Jetblue flights, although it is many times smaller.

Ranked by the population of the metropolitan area, (ie, the flying public), Fresno ranks 3rd from this selection of cities.

However, ranked by airline service, Fresno comes out looking pretty bad:

 
Dead last in destinations served. Only Knoxville also lacks service by Southwest and Jetblue, but they get twice the number of destinations from less airlines. In regards to airlines, I combined entities such as “American Eagle” with “American Airlines” and I went by brand, rather than actual airline (Skywest does most flights, but nobody buys a Skywest ticket). I included Burlington as an example of a very small metro area with Jetblue service….and awkwardly, more destination options than Fresno, even with a metro area more than twice as small.

Unsurprisingly, the lack of service has resulted in a much smaller number of passengers than these other cities. And that’s where you get a chicken and egg problem.

Airlines don’t serve Fresno because few people fly. Few people fly because prices are expensive, destinations are limited, and service is unreliable.

Sure, people can and do drive to LAX and SFO. But that’s a waste of a day. The 4 hour drive usually means 5 because you have to plan for traffic or delays. And since those airports are bigger, you have to arrive 2 hours early for TSA troubles. So half the day, just to make the flight.

One day, High Speed Rail will solve this problem. But for the next 6 years, Fresno finds itself stuck in the same situation. Limited flights, high prices, and a poor position compared to peer cities. I’m no longer expecting new destinations or airlines, but who knows, maybe Alaska might surprise.

Tijuana Airport is now directly connected to San Diego!

It’s been a long time coming, but just this week a private company finally opened a new “terminal” in the US that connects you directly into the Tijuana airport.

An innovative privately operated international port of entry connecting San Diego with Tijuana’s A.L. Rodriguez International Airport launched operations on Wednesday, opening a new chapter in cross-border travel.

Years in the planning, the 9 a.m. opening of the Cross Border Xpress took place with little fanfare — just the presence of luggage-toting airline passengers who smiled broadly after taking minutes to cross from Tijuana to San Diego. They emerged from what looked like a long hallway spanning the international border, presenting documents to U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors, and proceeded to their destinations.
sandiegouniontribune.com Click to read more!

Shock! Journalist finally realizes that rail is cheaper and more reliable than flying

One of the most frustrating parts about journalism in California, especially in regards to high speed rail (HSR), has been the inability of reporters to see beyond their personal bubble. Many times, it seems like these journalists take their own experience, and extrapolate it to be the “California experience”. For example, if they drive everywhere, then “everybody drives”. Or, when it comes to travel within the state, “everybody flies”. For a rambling discussion at the bar, that’s not an issue, but when these journalists write for major newspapers and get to set the tone, it loses all its amusement.=&0=&

Would High Speed Rail have kept the SF Giants affiliation in Fresno?

Last week the news in Fresno was all
about baseball. After a 17-year partnership with the AAA Grizzlies, the San
Francisco Giants decided to end their affiliation agreement and instead back
the Sacramento River Cats.

One of the major reasons cited for
the switch was how Sacramento is closer to SF than Fresno, which allows for
faster and more convenient moves between the teams when needed. Now, we all
know the public reasons for any major decision aren’t the only ones. There are
always layers of strategy and money under the surface. However, the public
reason certainly did come into play.

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For the Giants, having their Triple-A affiliate in their geographical
backyard was important. Many team’s transactions involve calling a
player up from or sending him down to Triple-A, the highest minor-league
level. The Giants, who for the last 17 years have partnered with the
Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies, now will have many of their top minor-league
players just 90 miles away.

“When you have so many player moves that take place between your
Triple-A club and major-league team, it was just very difficult to pass
up an opportunity to get that close to our Triple-A club,” Giants
assistant general manager Bobby Evans said.
Sacramento Bee


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/09/18/6717513/sacramento-river-cats-giants.html#storylink=cpy

Click to read more!

Bakersfield in unexpected places

I did not expect to see a sign advertising the country music of Bakersfield while making a layover in the Nashville airport.

It was my first time stopping in that airport, and while I was expecting country music (there sure was a lot of it), one never expects to find references to Bakersfield or Fresno outside the valley, and yet, they’re strangely common. I’m sure I’m not the first to notice this.

 photo 2013-03-16145744_zpsdf8127d1.jpg

Speaking of airports, I find that the food available inside tells you a lot about the city. Dallas, for example, has an enormous airport, but absolutely terrible food – basically just bad fast food. I’ve no interested in visiting that city. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, you’ll find an assortment of local restaurants – pricey, with small portions, but very tasty. IE, what you’ll find outside the airport. In Boston, you’ll naturally be overwhelmed by the number of Dunking Donuts locations and Legal Seafood outlets.

In Nashville, I had some absolutely delicious ribs for under $10, and while it was never on my radar, I wouldn’t mind visiting the city to experience some more of that.

Fresno should probably follow suit and expose people to the real food available in town. How about a Tacos Tijuana stand?

Anyway, as I’m traveling, I won’t be able to post anything this week. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!