United to cut service out of McClellan-Palomar Airport

United to cut service out of McClellan-Palomar Airport
United is the only commercial service that operates out of McClellan-Palomar Airport, with about seven flights going to LAX daily. Photo by Ellen Wright

CARLSBAD—SkyWest Airlines, which operates under contract with United Express Airlines, is going to cut daily commercial service from McClellan-Palomar Airport to Los Angeles by April 2015.

The move comes after Sky West announced fleet transitions to improve overall efficiency and long-term profitability, and would leave the airport without commercial service.

Sky West officials are phasing out the use of the Embraer 120 Brasilia turboprop aircraft, which seats about 30 people, in order to transition to an all-jet fleet.

The LAX to Carlsbad route exclusively uses the Brasilia turboprop.

In January, the Federal Aviation Administration released new rules involving pilot’s duty times, which increased the cost of operating the Brasilia turboprops.

United Express operates about seven flights to LAX out of the airport daily.

Charter services run out of the airport for people willing to book private flights.

Other aviation services run out of the airport, including flight schools and personal aircraft pilots.

“While there will not be any commercial passengers traveling through the airport, the airport is still open and continues to support many aviation businesses,” Airport Manager at McClellan-Palomar Olivier Brackett, said.

He went on to say that so far, no other commercial airlines have applied to fill the void that will be left in April.

“There has been some general interest, but we do not have any active applications from other commercial airlines at this time,” Brackett said.

Surf Air is a membership based service and just started servicing the airport. Members pay $1,750 monthly for unlimited flights, which go to Las Vegas, Santa Barbara and Truckee.

Another commercial airline attempted to operate out of McClellan-Palomar Airport, California Pacific Airlines, but faced difficulties getting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Transportation Security Administrations officials have yet to decide whether or not to relocate the two officers based at the airport.

“If there’s not commercial service at an airport, there’s no requirement for TSA officers to be there,” Nico Melendez, TSA spokesman said.

If another airline comes in, Melendez said, the officers will stay.

“Considering the fact that we still have five months until United pulls out, there still is time for the airport to find other commercial service to come in, so no hard decisions have been made as to where they’re going to go, what’s going to happen or when they’re going to leave,” Melendez said.

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