Tahoe lobbies another airline | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe lobbies another airline

Michael Schneider

A contingency of South Lake Tahoe representatives met with another airline Wednesday, continuing their quest for local airline service.

Assistant Airport Manager Janis Brand; Keith Swanson, airport commissioner; and Steve Solberg, state line Embassy Suites Resort general manager, met with Horizon Air representatives in Seattle. City officials have met with several airlines this year, including America West, Continental and American Airlines.

Brand said Horizon, which is affiliated with Alaska Air, may expand its services and markets and could serve Lake Tahoe.

“We had a great interchange,” Brand said. “We need to wait and see where they’re headed as far as expansion.”

Horizon currently serves most major airports in the Pacific Northwest and flies as far south as San Jose.

In a presentation before the City Council earlier this year, representatives from the firm hired by the city to return commercial air service to Tahoe said the San Jose area was a potential market.

Brand said the possibility of Horizon service here boils down to a figures and numbers game.

She said she will solicit information from the community as to how many people come to Tahoe each year from Seattle, Portland and other Pacific Northwest cities. She said the airline does well flying from Northwest markets to the Reno/Tahoe International Airport.

Apparently most airlines do well flying to the Reno airport.

Figures for May released by Reno/Tahoe International Airport Wednesday show passenger totals increased 2.4 percent compared to May 1997. Year-to-date passenger totals increased by about 150,000 over the same period of last year.

“Is there really a market from the Northwest, or is the market created by cheap fares and rooms in Reno?” Brand asked. She will find out how many Tahoe-area residents typically fly to the Northwest.

Brand said Horizon currently uses 70-passenger jets, but is looking to upgrade their planes. She said the Lake Tahoe Airport’s long runways would accommodate those larger planes.

Brand remains optimistic about the chances for local service, saying meeting airline representatives in person is advantageous to the phone conversations she’s had with the same people for years. “Now we’re real people,” she said. “Not just a voice on the phone.”

Future meetings with smaller commuter airlines are planned for July. Also, Brand said airport proponents have been busy gathering the data requested by airlines with which city representatives have already met.

“Soon we’ll be ready to recontact and rediscuss possibilities with those airlines we’ve already met with,” Brand said.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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