Airlines consider coming back to Lake Tahoe Airport
Although Allegiant Air and Tahoe Express have not finalized a return to the Lake Tahoe Airport, the carriers are confident a decision will soon be made.
“We need to make a decision, and I believe we will be serving Lake Tahoe in a reasonable amount of time,” said Jim Patterson, president of Allegiant. “We are doing everything we can to get that done.”
Tahoe Express also is in negotiations with an airline.
According to President Bruce Wetsel, the company is leaning toward purchasing another airline to acquire their own certificate, flight crews and airplanes, which would require approval from U.S. Department of Transportation.
When the carrier first attempted service in the Tahoe area, it was under the charter of Casino Express, an Elko-based company, and known as Tahoe Air. Wetsel declined comment on which airline Tahoe Express was considering buying.
Lake Tahoe Airport Manager Rick Jenkins was hopeful both carriers would bring their service back in the early part of June.
“The airline industry is perceived as a public service, but it’s a business with a bottom line, so we’re limited in that process until they reach a decision.”
In addition to reinstating air service, the airport, which is owned and operated by the city of South Lake Tahoe, is also trying to recover money owed to it by past renters.
According to City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo, Tahoe Air still owes the city $66,000 from last year. Oasis Aviation, which offers fuel services at the airport, also owes money to the city, but has made an attempt to pay its bills during recent months.
“Oasis still owes, but it’s nowhere near what they owed before,” DiCamillo said.
Likewise Bruce Wetsel, who was affiliated with Tahoe Air, said once the bank releases money from the airline’s commercial account, its former employees will be paid for their services.
“The bank has a policy of holding money that was charged on credit cards,” Wetsel said. “We have $177,000 in that account and it’s just a matter of when they will release it.”
Wetsel said about 18 employees are in line for reimbursement. Most of the ground crew was paid up. Customers who booked reservations, but never got a flight have also had their money returned.
“We are answering the phone and trying to help people out and get their money back to them,” Wetsel said.
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