Bob Hope Airport scores new tenant

Bob Hope Airport is welcoming a new commuter airline this month whose routes will connect the Imperial Valley to Los Angeles and beyond.

On Wednesday, Portland, Ore.-based SeaPort Airlines launched its new slate of 12 non-stop, round-trip flights per week into Terminal A using nine-seat Cessna Caravan propeller planes.

During May SeaPort is offering an introductory fare of $39 each way.

SeaPort spokeswoman Claire James said that when SeaPort initiated plans to offer flights to San Diego out of Imperial County Airport, it became apparent there was local demand for flights to the Los Angeles area, too.

The largest city in Imperial County is El Centro, with roughly 42,000 residents in the southeastern corner of the state, near the Mexican border.

James said Bob Hope is a great fit for the airline, which has built its business model on offering travelers flights out of less-crowded, more convenient airports. She added that there is potential for expansion.

"As Bob Hope Airport is a great alternative to the hustle and bustle at LAX, we would like to pursue further opportunities out of Burbank specifically," James said.

Flights into Bob Hope Airport would target business travelers coming to Los Angeles as well Imperial Valley residents wanting to easily connect with larger airlines to vacation destinations, James said.

SeaPort, which started in Alaska in 1982 as Wings of Alaska, became SeaPort Airlines in 2008 with a new business model offering shuttle service for business travelers between Seattle and Portland.

In January, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded SeaPort a contract through its Essential Air Service program to operate round-trip flights from Imperial County Airport to San Diego — its first route in California. The program subsidizes airlines to ensure that small communities are served by commercial flights.


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