H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Jul 23, 2013 8:27 PM by April Hansen, KSBY News

Central Coast airports hope to add Denver service

The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport wants to add flights that would give local travelers access to more than 200 destinations.

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors gave airport officials the go ahead Tuesday to look into new direct routes such as Denver.

Denver is desirable because it's a major airline hub that will connect fliers to more destinations with fewer stops.

Right now to get to east coast cities, many travelers in this area drive to major airports in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco instead of flying out of the Central Coast because there are fewer connections.

Airport officials hope, by adding a direct flight to Denver, more travelers will fly out of their local airport.

San Luis Obispo Airport Manager Richard Howell says the airport did a passenger survey back in 2009 and found that Denver was the number one destination local travelers wanted.

"They aren't going to Santa Barbara, they aren't going to Santa Maria, they are going to LA and San Francisco and why? Because of the selection of air service is much larger in LA and San Francisco," he said.

Howell presented an airline guarantee program to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

This program offsets the risk to an airline when they develop a new route in a market by giving the airline money up front.

Howell says this package will be about $1 million. Half of that money is from a small community air service grant, but the airport still needs to find funding for the other portion of the guarantee program before they can approach airlines with their proposal.

The board also approved a contract with the airport and a consulting group that will help direct recruiting of new airlines and routes.

The Santa Maria Airport already has a $1 million incentive package. Half of the funds came from a grant and the airport matched the rest.

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