Airline to boost Palmdale flights
Trying to lure more passengers, United Airlines will double its flights at L.A./Palmdale Regional Airport, which has been struggling to attract travelers since air service resumed at the facility a year ago.
Officials for Los Angeles World Airports announced Tuesday that United, the only commercial carrier at the airport, would increase daily flights from two to four and replace its current 50-seat regional jets with 30-seat turboprops, adding 20% more capacity.
“This action is a positive step forward in our expansion efforts for L.A./Palmdale Airport to become a viable alternative to LAX for the hundreds of thousands of citizens living in the north county and throughout the region,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.
Airline and airport officials hope the additional flights will make Palmdale more attractive to travelers from military contractors, military bases and government installations in the region.
The new service will fly between Palmdale and San Francisco International Airport, where travelers can make connections to 35 destinations.
United customers can book the additional flights beginning Sept. 3.
Airport officials said that doubling departures was intended to increase schedule flexibility, something requested by frequent travelers from the area. They also said that adding an evening flight would prevent travelers who complete their business during the day from having to stay overnight.
“This is a good move,” said Jack Keady, an aviation consultant based in Playa del Rey. “Passengers are frequency-minded. The change will give them two flights coming and two flights going. It could make a considerable difference.”
Since United began offering service at Palmdale in June 2007, its regional jets have been 30% to 40% full, which is short of a goal of 50% by this time. Typically, flights for major commercial airlines run about 75% to 80% full.
Nevertheless, airport and airline officials say they remain optimistic about the service’s chances for long-term success, saying start-up flights in new markets typically take months to catch on with passengers.
Airport officials note that in May, Palmdale’s flights were 42% of capacity, representing a new high of 2,323 monthly passengers.