REGIONAL AIR TRAVEL REMAINS A CHAMBER FOCUS By Cecil Russell The Modesto Chamber of Commerce has supported commercial air travel as part of Modesto and Stanislaus County’s overall transportation strategy. Over the last 10 to 15 years The Modesto Chamber has been a catalyst to help develop a meaningful approach to commercial air travel for both business and leisure travel. We have supported many efforts to acquire consistent and dependable service.
Two City Council members that are also on The Modesto Airport Advisory board agreed to meet in Stockton with Russell Stark and his team to start the discussion and planning to facilitate a joint effort to accomplish the goal of creating a regional partnership. On July 16th a meeting was held at the Stockton Airport, Doug Ridenour and Bill Zoslocki Modesto City Council and Airport Advisory members along with Steve Madison, Chairman of Modesto Chamber Governmental Relations Committee, Randy Clark Vice-Chairman of Modesto Chamber Economic Development Committee and Cecil Russell Chairman of Modesto Chamber’s Airport Sub Committee attended the meeting. There were two persons representing the Stockton Metropolitan Airport Advisory Group.
The meeting was very informative that also included discussions on acquiring a third airline to potentially serve Seattle, Salt Lake and Denver. The request at this time is for Modesto City and the Modesto Chamber of Commerce to promote and help market the air service. Doug Ridenour has taken on the task of scheduling additional meetings with all of the Airport Advisory Board members. We are all looking forward to working together for consistent and reliable commercial air service for our communities. Doug Ridenour also reported that Sky Trek has sold their private air operations in Modesto to Axis Jet that is home based in Sacramento Executive Airport. They took control on August 1st. This is good economic news for Modesto, they will be adding six to eight charter aircraft at the Modesto Airport, they also plan an expansion of new hangers and will be the only maintenance provider for Pilatus aircraft These are all positive changes for the future of air travel for our region.
The plans to attract airlines to service the Modesto Airport have proven to be unsuccessful. With United Express dropping its flights to San Francisco, the consensus was to try to reach a partnership with the Stockton Airport. This would become a regional approach serving both Stockton and Modesto including all of San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties. This was the most consistent idea that was developed. The Modesto Chamber’s Economic Development Committee reached out to the General Manager of The Stockton Metropolitan Airport. Russell Stark the Director gave a presentation at the June 5th Modesto Chamber Economic Development Committee meeting. His presentation was received with great enthusiasm. He stated that creating a regional approach was in their plans and invited us to join the effort. Their current commercial service is with Allegiant Airlines that services with flights to Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Diego and he informed us that United Airlines started daily service with two flights per day to Los Angeles as of August 16th.