Airport marketer wants director named |

Airport marketer wants director named

Michael Schneider

Lake Tahoe Airport marketer Vesta Rea-Gaubert said airports, such as the Lake Tahoe Airport, are better marketed to commercial airlines when there is an official airport director in place.

Rea-Gaubert said she was not making the comments specifically in regard to the Lake Tahoe Airport, but said the reasoning would apply there.

Currently Janis Brand is in charge of the airport. Her official title is assistant airport manager.

“It has nothing to do with Janis, but the whole perception of how an airport operates,” Rea-Gaubert said. “You need to put a director up front.”

City Manager Kerry Miller said he understands Rea-Gaubert’s reasoning, but said there is currently no money for the airport to upgrade Brand’s position.

“It’s a matter of what comes first, the chicken or the egg? The horse or the cart?” Miller said. He said, if Rea-Gaubert is successful in her effort to bring a commercial airline to the city, it will afford the airport more funds allowing for an upgrade in Brand’s position.

Although her comments were not made specifically about Brand, Rea-Gaubert spoke highly of the assistant airport manager.

“She’s really knowledgeable about the airline industry,” Rea-Gaubert said. “It’s obvious it’s more to her than just a job to her.”

City Council Member Tom Davis, who has been the most visible council member in support of returning commercial service to the Lake Tahoe Airport, said Rea-Gaubert doesn’t understand the city’s financial bind. In recent years, the city has cut much of its staff in a process called Destination 2000.

The process has cut several city jobs and reduced the city’s department heads from six down to three.

He said the city has tried to compensate for not having an official airport head by sending a large contingency of officials from the public and private sectors on each airline soliciting trip.

“You’ve got me, representatives from the airport commission, the city manager and the private sector,” Davis said. “I don’t think we’re losing out due to our presentations.”

In support of Davis’ comments, Miller said the city received a letter from American Airlines that was complimentary of the city’s presentation.

So far, city officials have met with five airlines who may, at a future date, provide commercial service to the airport. The meetings have taken place in Phoenix, Houston and Seattle.

Also, without the help of Rea-Gaubert, city officials have been in discussion with start-up airline Allegiant Air, Inc., based in Fresno, Calif.

Jim Patterson, Allegiant president, said airline executives have planned a trip to South Lake Tahoe within the next week to further discuss the possibility of serving the airport in some capacity.

Allegiant has passed the Federal Aviation Administration certification process and owns an 89-passenger DC-9.

The Lake Tahoe Airport has been without a commercial passenger airline for more than two years.

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