Sonoma County Airport looks east for new destinations as passenger numbers pick up

When based Reno Aha! Airlines last month abruptly closed and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the airline’s loss at Charles M Schulz Sonoma County Airport wasn’t the most disappointing—the carrier had been serving the facility for nearly six weeks—it was something else.

“The disappointment was the loss of destination,” said airport manager John Stout. “We’ve spent about 10 years trying to add Reno, and nothing fits a lot of operators outside of Reno.”

AHA! It wouldn’t be a significant factor in passenger volume at the airport anyway, Stout said, because they were flying only two days a week on a 50-seat plane.

There are even greater focal points for the Santa Rosa facility.

“We want Denver back, we want Chicago,” Stout said. “We need more eastbound opportunities to connect. These are the most likely options and they have a huge demand on their own.”

United have not resumed service to Denver at Sonoma County Airport after halting it nearly two years ago during the pandemic, despite repeatedly announcing new dates. In July, United announced that it would suspend all services at the airport on November 1, which is only San Francisco at this point. The airline has taken similar steps at other regional airports, citing persistent shortages of pilots and crew and rising gas prices, Business Journal previously reported.

Stout said United are interested in returning to Santa Rosa, but that could take two years.

United and American, which flies to Dallas and Phoenix out of the regional facility, have expressed interest in bringing Chicago flights to the airport, but, again, not anytime soon.

Looking at the August passenger numbers, the three airlines serving the airport — United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Avlo Airlines — combined carried 56,528 passengers through Sonoma County Airport, up 25.4% from the previous year but down from 61,099 in July. , according to airport officials.

Alaska Airlines in August carried 34,700 passengers through Santa Rosa, up 23.5% from the previous year. An airline’s load factor – a measure of how full planes are on average – was 85%.

American Airlines last month carried 10,637 passengers through the regional airport, an increase of 4.4% over the previous year. The US load factor was 75%.

Burbank-based Avelo Airlines in August carried 9,369 passengers through the airport, up 98.7% from August 2021. Load factor was 58%.

United Airlines flew 1,549 passengers through the facility last month, with a load factor of 53%.

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