Nonstop flights could soon start between the Modesto City-County Airport and Los Angeles International Airport, if a local campaign is successful.
The DestinationLAX drive has secured more than $1 million in pledges from local businesses, nonprofits, and governments, to be spent on travel between MOD and LAX once the route takes flight. That pledged money is intended to convince a major airline that the demand exists to make such a route profitable.
“The Modesto community has always been generous and involved and we are showing the interested airline, and anyone else who will listen, that flights between Modesto and LAX will be supported tenfold,” said Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh. “Pledges have come from organizations both large and small as well as individuals – showing what a positive impact we can have when we work together to bring something good to Modesto.”
On Wednesday, the drive announced that $500,000 in pledges had been made. Pledges of at least $10,000 had been made by the City of Modesto, American Chevrolet of Modesto, DoubleTree Modesto by Hilton, LA Tour Travel and Hampton Inn and Suites.
But by Friday, the group surged past its goal to reach $1,074,646 in pledges, potentially opening the door for air service from Modesto to Los Angeles and the world beyond.
“LAX is the largest airport on the West Coast which means that hundreds of destinations across the globe are just one stop away,” said Modesto City Councilmember John Gunderson. “I invited travel agents I know to Wednesday’s event to see if this is something they would be interested in – and they definitely were. Due to clients who regularly travel to India and Asia, their pledges pushed this campaign over the top, and we’re not done yet.”
The pledges are nonbinding, and no money is collected when pledges are made. However, similar pledge drives have been successful in obtaining air routes for other small airports.
DestinationLAX notes that driving from Modesto to San Francisco International Airport costs $110, plus $18 per day in parking. A company which conducts 100 three-day trips out of SFO annually spends more than $30,000, factoring in driving, parking, and personnel costs.
The DestinationLAX campaign says that a “reputable regional airline with connecting service to worldwide destinations beyond LAX” is interested in operating two daily flights in each direction. The flights would be on-board a Bombardier Canadair CRJ200, seating 50, and would take 1 hour and 20 minutes. Of course, people still have the option of looking for dead head flights with private companies, if they would prefer to travel independently.
Though the specific regional carrier has not been identified, cross-referencing the list of CRJ200 operators with the list of airlines serving LAX indicates the flight would likely be operated by SkyWest Airlines under the American Eagle, Delta Connection, or United Express banner. SkyWest currently operates flights to SFO from MOD, under the United Express banner.
Operating the flights would cost the airline an estimated $6,019,580 annually. The breakeven per-seat cost would be roughly $109, assuming each flight is 76 percent full.
For more information, or to pledge, visit www.destinationlax.com.