Santa Barbara Municipal Airport will offer incentives to lure a new carrier to offer routes to and from San Jose, but service isn’t likely to return soon.
That was the message from airport director Karen Ramsdell at a July 21 meeting of 50 business and community leaders, hosted by Citrix Online in Goleta.
Business leaders on the South Coast organized the meeting after United Airlines eliminated its SkyWest flights between Santa Barbara and San Jose, which links many South Coast businesses to the Silicon Valley. The airline said demand was too low to sustain the service.
Kevin Schorr, a consultant working with the South Coast group, said the cutback came as a surprise. In part it reflects a decision by SkyWest not to continue flights on 33-seat Brasilia aircraft, the model used for the San Jose flights.
Charters are a possibility, but the priority is a new scheduled service. Airport officials said they are planning a public survey to build their case that the route can be successful.
The airport, which recently gained twice-daily flights to Denver on Frontier Airlines, will take another hit when Horizon Air’s twice-daily service to Sacramento ends in August.
Schorr said the problem with that flight was that one roundtrip was nearly empty even though a later flight and return were nearly full.
Goleta City Councilman Michael Bennett and Mike Stoker, the Republican candidate for the 35th District State Assembly seat, said they would favor a combined San Jose-Sacramento flight.
Schorr said it was something the airport would keep in mind in talking to new airlines. Under any circumstances, he added, it was a near certainty that United Express/Skywest would not return to the Santa Barbara-San Jose route anytime soon.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated shortly after it was posted with more details from the meeting.