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Bustling airports are key for strong economy

By   /   Thursday, August 21st, 2008  /   Comments Off on Bustling airports are key for strong economy

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Business organizations in San Luis Obispo County are fighting hard to retain as much airline service as possible at a regional facility that has seen dramatic cuts this year

For those who have missed recent headlines, American Eagle is halting San Luis Obispo County Airport service, which includes daily flights to Los Angeles. American Eagle also is closing its maintenance facility at the airport, cutting about 100 jobs.

To make matters worse, Delta Connection also announced it will drop its daily flight between San Luis Obispo and Salt Lake City next month, which leaves United Express as the dominant carrier at the airport.

Rallying businesses together to fight the cuts are the San Luis Obispo Economic Vitality Corp., or EVC, as well as the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce. The EVC and the Chamber have launched a write-in campaign saying the flight reductions “could be devastating to our county.” Lost jobs, impaired business connections and curtailed tourism travel are some of the potential negative effects.

Although there has been sometimes fierce competition over the years between the San Luis Obispo airport and a larger airfield in Santa Maria, the recent cutbacks in the Central Coast don’t really help, especially when the SLO airfield recently underwent a series of upgrades to increase its ability to handle larger regional jets.

This is not a zero sum game where losses in one area have been offset by gains elsewhere – losing a substantial chunk of flights from SLO is by any definition a net loss for the region.
Santa Barbara’s Municipal Airport has seen some flights trimmed and recently six part-time skycaps were let go by Skywest Airlines.

A healthy business community, particularly in sectors such as technology, consulting and professional services, requires air connections that enable professionals to move from our small communities to major hubs without a lot of hassle. These connections also can enable tourists from overseas to take advantage of the weak dollar and visit our communities.

The EDC is to be commended for gathering letters of support for the airport to help preserve it in the midst of cloudy skies for air travel. We support their efforts.


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