Airline set for takeoff |

Airline set for takeoff

Tahoe Air Corporation, a basin-based start-up airline, will pen an agreement Thursday for financial backing.

“We’re getting ready to sign on the dotted line,” said Mark Sando, the company’s on-site project general manager. Sando and Tahoe Air have been trying to broker a deal for the return of commercial air service to the Lake Tahoe Airport since 1996.

According to Sando, Ally Capital Corporation, a San Francisco investment bank rooted in Marin, Calif., will raise about $7 million for the airline’s endeavor. This, coupled with some seed money contributed from smaller sources Friday, has Sando cautiously optimistic.

“I’m excited,” he said, with fingers crossed that Tahoe Air could be providing flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles by the summer.

The airline hopes to begin the lengthy Federal Aviation Administration certification process by mid-March.

Sando said he is not perturbed by the FAA’s plans to discontinue funding for the airport’s control tower staff in a matter of weeks.

“We’re hoping the certification process will be another reason to keep the tower open,” he said.

Council member Tom Davis, back from a lobbying trip to Washington D.C. to solicit support for FAA funding, said he did all he could and is now waiting for word from the seven congress members who support continued funding.

Tahoe Air began its efforts for the reappearance of commercial air service at the Lake Tahoe Airport in the spring of 1996.

The group has purposely shunned media attention regarding those efforts, taking lessons from past start-up failures that the corporation heads say went public too early.

The airline, sponsored by A&M Travel Corporation, a basin travel company, went public with its venture last August. It hopes to provide jet service to SFO and LAX at prices competitive with airlines which fly to Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Currently, the Lake Tahoe Airport has been without a commercial provider for approximately two years. In the late 1970s, the airport saw nearly 300,000 commercial passengers pass through its halls per year.

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