H-SANTA MARIA

Sep 24, 2013 7:01 PM by April Hansen, KSBY

SM airport still working on Denver flight campaign

Santa Maria airport officials are still working on a campaign to get a gateway flight to the East Coast and hope to bring back flights to the Aloha State. Airport officials hope service to Hawaii will resume, but don't have any dates from Allegiant Airlines on when that could happen.The airport's general manager says they have the funding and the infrastructure needed to support a flight to and from Denver. Now, they are just waiting for answers. Direct service to Hawaii arrived on the Central Coast last year, but the flights took a hiatus when the peak summer season was over, so now the focus is on Denver. "We think we are well-suited to serve Denver from Santa Maria," said Santa Maria Airport General Manager Christ Hastert. He says plans to fly to larger hubs like Denver have been a natural progression for the airport. "It started with our terminal expansion in 2007 and 2008, so we expanded the baggage claim and expanded the hold room to accommodate the Las Vegas Allegiant flights and when they expanded that, they went even bigger for us to accommodate the 757s with the flights to Hawaii," said Hastert. Santa Maria isn't the only airport on the Central Coast that wants to add Denver to its flight list. The San Luis Obispo Airport is also looking into adding Denver service. "We get along quite well with the San Luis Obispo Airport and they are doing their work to justify why Denver works for them," said Hastert. He says he hopes the airport's 8,000 feet of runway and $1 million incentive package will attract an airline and make it happen. "We don't think United will choose to fly to Denver out of both of the airports, but we hope with our grant, the airline support program, and support from the different military travelers that we have the package that will hopefully succeed," said Hastert. He says the $1 million is funded by a federal grant and airport funds.He says if the Board of Directors approves it, he will meet with United Airlines and present them with more information before a final decision is made on Denver. Hastert says Allegiant's Hawaii flight will not be back this winter, but expects the service to pick back up in the spring. The airport's Board of Directors meeting is Thursday at 7 p.m. in the boardroom of the airport's administration building.

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