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California Pacific Airlines to hit the skies Nov. 1

CARLSBAD — Just in time for the holiday rush, California Pacific Airlines is scheduled to begin service on Nov. 1.

Chief Operating Officer Mickey Bowman said the budding airline signed its lease with San Diego County at McClellan-Palomar Airport “a couple weeks ago.”

Bowman said the airline will start with four, three-person crews based out of Carlsbad and in the coming weeks will begin to hire mechanics and “station” staff, people who will handle ticketing and other responsibilities.

“Once we were sure we had the go-ahead, we began interviewing pilots,” Bowman said. “Frankly, that’s what our timeline takes. Nov. 1 is a realistic start date for us based what we saw from the county.”

CP Air announced in May it would begin service in late summer with the first routes to be service to Phoenix, San Jose, Las Vegas, Oakland and Cabo San Lucas. However, it experienced delays with the county regarding the lease and environmental review application.

John Barkley, CP Air’s chief financial officer, said in May those routes will be rolled out, but emphasized the Phoenix and San Jose routes as the priority, mainly for businesses who fly employees routinely to those destinations. He said one major tech company had 1,400 flights to Phoenix last year.

Bowman, though, said CP Air is still working on the details and logistics of where the first destinations will carry passengers. Bowman did add the company will focus on more of the business routes with some leisure destinations mixed in.

“We’re putting the final touches on that,” he said. “Transportation is sort of key to developing business structures. It’s certainly going to bring to North County ease.”

CP Air will be the second commercial airline to operate out of McClellan-Palomar Airport this year. Cal Jet Elite Air launched operations last year, but shut down in April.

The company announced it would return in June with more routes, but has not returned to service.

The county is in communication with Cal Jet, which states it is continuing to work to restart service soon. The airline still has its lease with the county, according to Gig Conaughton, communications specialist with the county.

Several messages left with Cal Jet Elite Air were not returned.

“We are communicating with Cal Jet Elite and California Pacific Airlines, and the county of San Diego looks forward to the success of both airlines providing commercial service for the general public to and from McClellan-Palomar Airport,” Conaughton said.

CP Air CEO Ted Vallas and his investors (The Coast News publisher Jim Kydd is an investor) announced last fall the acquisition of Aerodynamics, which has four planes, mostly for charter service. Barkley said in May he was working on leasing more jets, including the larger Embraer 175, which holds 70 passengers. Currently, the airline has leased four, 50-seat jets.

For several years the embattled airline has been promising flights out of Carlsbad. Issues with the county and CP Air’s environmental applications, though, were a sore spot and caused delays in permitting. It is one reason CP Air acquired Aerodynamics.

However, one of the biggest selling points for CP Air is a fast, easy flight process. Hook and Barkley emphasized the toll passengers, especially in North County, undergo when flying out of San Diego International Airport.

At Palomar, parking is $5, security lines are much shorter and the time spent commuting is less.

“I think it’s going to be an alternative and easy to use,” Bowman said. “It’s going to be tremendously convenient for them.”

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