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. Continue reading

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For an airline, what does it cost to fly between Modesto and L.A.? These slides tell us.

Sixel Consulting Group wants to bring new service between Modesto and Los Angeles.

Sixel Consulting Group wants to bring new service between Modesto and Los Angeles. But first it needs a bunch of pledges from Modesto business and residents.

Last week we profiled the small California town of Modesto, which is organizing a pledge drive, asking residents to commit to spend a certain amount on plane tickets if a new “mystery” airline starts twice daily flights to Los Angeles. 

Now, the air service consultant behind the move – Sixel Consuling Group — has unveiled a flashy new website, with a bunch of slides.

The ones I find most interesting highlight the operating cost of new service between Modesto and Los Angeles. What does it cost to operate two round-trip flights a day between the two cities? Keep reading to find out.

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Modesto officials come up with odd plan to regain air service to Los Angeles

A consultant retained by the city of Modesto, Calif. is collecting pledges from local fliers and businesses who would be willing to commit to buy plane tickets if an airline started new service to Los Angeles, the Modesto Bee reported this week. 

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Burbank Bob Hope Airport works to regain traffic

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What do you do if you’re a midsize hub airport that wants to grow traffic?

You hire a consultant.

At least that is what Burbank Bob Hope Airport did recently.  Like other facilities of its size, Burbank has had trouble holding onto flights in the past five years, and in 2012, American Airlines pulled completely out of the airport. Burbank served 4.1 million passengers in 2012, down from 5.9 million in 2007. That’s not nearly as bad as L.A./Ontario International Airport’s decline — down from about 7.2 million passengers in 2007 to 4.3 million passengers last year. But it’s still not good.

Hence the April 2013 report from Sixel Consulting Group, which studied traffic from a one-year period ending in third quarter 2012 and came up with some interesting findings.

Here are some of them:

  • Burbank is retaining fewer passengers in the Los Angeles region than in 2010. Many of them are flying instead from LAX. 
  • Burbank fares are up 31 percent since 2010
  • Long-haul service will always be a challenge for the airport, in part because of its relatively short runway length and difficult terrain.
  • 82 percent of available seats at the airport are for flights within 500 miles.

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