New US carrier California Pacific Airlines has formally opened its first check-in counter at McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad this month as it ramps up its marketing for its early 2012 launch. The start-up is currently is in the process of securing its official Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and is hopeful it will inaugurate flights during the first quarter of next year. The new venture will be the first airline based in San Diego County since Pacific Southwest Airlines was integrated into the old USAir in the 1988.
California Pacific Airlines is backed by 90-year old local businessman Ted Vallas who had previously managed Air Resorts Airlines, a regional carrier that flew a mixed fleet of Convair propliners during the 1980s and 1990s. It plans to lease four Embraer 190s to initially offer flights to the California cities of Oakland, Sacramento and San Jose as well as Las Vegas and Phoenix, later adding links to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta.
There is certainly a need for additional air services from McClellan-Palomar Airport. There is currently just a single domestic flight to Los Angeles operated by SkyWest Airlines for United Airlines on an up to seven time daily schedule. An estimated 5,000 O&D passengers travelled on the route in the past year with around 61,000 additional passengers using the flight to connect to other destinations.