Officials now call the second year of commercial air service to the Mammoth Yosemite Airport a success.

horizon_airplaneThe second year of Horizon air service to Mammoth Lakes ended Sunday after a season of offering four flights a day in and out of the Eastern Sierra. The first year of commercial air service consisted of one flight a day to LAX, but this year there were two daily flights to LAX, one flight to San Jose, and another to Reno, with connecting flights to Seattle and Portland.

Karen Johnston with the Town of Mammoth Lakes reports that just under 18,000 people flew into the Mammoth Airport this winter. This number helps the town qualify for $1 million in FAA money that required 10,000 outgoing passengers a year.

Dan Hansen with Mammoth Mountain Ski area said, “We are really happy with how it performed this year, adding that the new flights, exceeded expectations.

The San Jose flight, designed to improve access to the Eastern Sierra for Northern California residents, appears to be working. Karen Johnston said that the flights from San Jose were 46% full on the inbound flights and 53% on the outbound flights. The two LA flights were about 64% full, she said.

Jen Boyer with Horizon Air said that the San Jose and LA flights are back on for next winter.

The Reno flights, which connected to Seattle, did not do so well as the other flights coming in with a 36% load factor. Boyer said that Horizon has not made a decision on the Reno flight for next winter.

With the winter flights, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area agreed to pay Horizon a revenue guarantee to ensure the airline makes money if the flights are empty. Dan Hansen reports that Mammoth Mountain ended up paying, little to no subsidy, on the LAX and San Jose flights. The Reno flight was not part of this subsidy agreement

In the meantime, summer air service between LAX and Mammoth Yosemite has started and is scheduled to continue through September. Next season, United Airlines may take on one flight a day out of the San Francisco Airport. The United flight would use a CRJ700, a 70 seat jet, rather than the 70 seat turbo prop planes that Horizon is using. This jet flight requires an additional environmental process which should be open for public comments in coming weeks.

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