Air Service Adds Up to Economic Stimulus

horizon_airplaneAir Service to Mammoth-Yosemite Airport has generated an economic impact of over $25 million this year and that’s just the beginning.

That’s what Howard Pickett, Mammoth Mountain’s Chief Marketing Officer, told the Mammoth Town Council Wednesday night. Pickett revealed air service successes and plans for months and years to come.

Pickett’s presentation said that winter saw 14,400 enplanements at Mammoth Yosemite Airport as a result of Horizon Air flights. Pickett pointed to the real economic benefit with the assumption that each non-local visitor spends $1600 during a visit to Mammoth Lakes. In winter, that’s an economic impact of $18.4 million; summer, $4.4 million.

Flights have brought new visitors to the area, and surveys show that 85% of passengers are “extremely or very satisfied with the flight service” and over 92% were likely to recommend the service to friends and family.

Pickett said a long-term plan for growth of air service is needed to plan for infrastructure. He said Mammoth Lakes Tourism should be the leader of the effort although the Ski Area will continue to be a key player. Pickett said air service needs broader business, media and political support.

Air service, he said, attracts more professionals who can operate their businesses form the Eastern Sierra and attracts more employees. Air Service provides another basic – a way for locals to travel in and out of the area.

Pickett said the return on investment looks good too. The total costs to support air service this year were close to $2.5 million. The economic benefit – $25 million.

Plans for the future, he said, include two flights per day from key markets, adding airports and expansion into regional markets in California, the northwest and southwest.

Pickett’s ten-year plan predicts $134 million in annual economic impact, twelve to thirteen flights per day from major airports, service from several airlines, regional and mid-sized jets. All of this would mean an expanded terminal and lengthened runway.

Pickett spelled out the need for an Air Service Commission, public and private participation and continued negotiations with airline partners. Pickett will speak to other groups with his message of community involvement in coming weeks.

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