Pledge drive success! Modesto likely will get new flights to LAX

Will Modesto get new flights to Los Angeles? Photo: Sixel Consulting Group.

Will Modesto get new flights to Los Angeles? Photo: Sixel Consulting Group.

We have good news for the people of Modesto.

A seemingly bizarre plan suggested by a consultant for the city may have actually worked. You may remember in January, when Sixel Consulting Group said a “mystery” airline would start new flights to Los Angeles under one condition — the community would have to amass $1 million in non-binding pledges to buy plane tickets on the new flights.

This week the consultant announced good news.

“The City of Modesto is pleased to announce that the DestinationLAX pledge campaign has now raised $1,074,646 in nonbinding pledges!” (Yes, the exclamation point actually was in the press release.)

According to the Modesto Bee, this means the new service is a done deal.  But the consultant still isn’t saying what the new airline will be. Apparently that’s top secret.

“We are not at liberty to disclose a carrier or a timeline for service, as those items are still in negotiation,” Jack Penning, Sixel’s director of market analysis, said in an email to the Bee.

This is all confusing to me.

First, I don’t understand the secrecy. It’s a flight from Modesto to L.A., not a matter of national security. Second, the pledges are non-binding. No one knows whether anyone will buy these tickets. So, at best, maybe this whole campaign was about getting free advertising for whatever airline will soon begin flights from Modesto to L.A. This campaign got all of Modesto talking about new flights.

I shouldn’t make predictions here because I might get it wrong. But this airline has to be Skywest Airlines, right? Can you think of another carrier it might possibly be?

Also, I’m interested to see how much Sixel gets paid by Modesto for this operation.

Read on for the full press release.

DestinationLAX Surpasses $1 Million Pledge Goal

March 7, 2014 – MODESTO, CA – Wednesday’s exciting event designed to revitalize the campaign and
encourage more pledges did just that! The City of Modesto is pleased to announce that the DestinationLAX
pledge campaign has now raised $1,074,646 in nonbinding pledges!

“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.”

Several large pledges came in after Wednesday’s event was over, putting the campaign close to its goal, with
additional pledges coming in overnight and through Thursday to take that number above and beyond the $1
million goal.

“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.”

DestinationLAX is about more than just flying to Los Angeles – there are far reaching economic impacts.
Utilization of Modesto’s airport keeps money in the Modesto area – car rentals, gas purchases, hotel stays,
meals, and the list goes on. Business travel becomes more convenient, conventions more readily host events in
Modesto, families visit loved ones – it all equates to an increased number of passengers through the Modesto
City-County Airport which means better funding opportunities through the Federal Aviation Administration and
improved airport facilities. The economic impacts are real!

“It is very exciting to see the community support and enthusiasm for this flight,” said David White, CEO of the
Alliance. “Direct flights to key business locations like LA are a very important factor in economic development.”

DestinationLAX is a drive to collect $1 million in nonbinding pledges to demonstrate that the community will
support new nonstop air service between Modesto and Los Angeles (LAX). The pledges will be used to show a
major airline that there are Modesto area customers who are committed to using the route once it becomes
available.

In addition to air service pledges, the local chapter of Make-A-Wish™ will accept direct donations as part of
DestinationLAX. The money raised will be used to grant the wishes of local children with life-threatening
illnesses and help make their dreams come true. All Make-A-Wish donations made through the DestinationLAX
website will be earmarked for this campaign. To date, more than $5,000 has been donated to Make-A-Wish
through the DestinationLAX campaign.

The campaign will continue through Monday, March, 31. For more information, or to contribute a pledge, visit
destinationLAX.com.

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