Aviano789
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Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 5:56 pm

Back in the late 70s and early 80s the only way to get from Southern California to South Lake Tahoe in under 12 plus hour drive was by hoping one of a the few available flights from operators, like Air Cal, PSA, Hughes Air west. Golden West Airlines to name a few others who would eventually abandon the route because of weight restrictions, coupled with crippling loss of revenue and other operating factors such as heavy competition from well-established and safer Reno International (RTIA).

As South Lake Tahoe is still a great vacation spot almost year round, would any of the majors airlines re-consider establishing direct flights from PHX, SAN. SNA, BUR, ONT, LAX, or even as far away as DFW, to TVL to save the hassle of driving up the mountain from Reno?

The link below depict some history of previous operators into TVL.

http://departedwings.com/the%20airports ... Tahoe.html
Last edited by Aviano789 on Wed May 16, 2018 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
jmc1975
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TLV) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 6:01 pm

TLV is Tel Aviv, Israel
.......
 
bzcat
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TLV) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 6:05 pm

I'll venture a guess... Bay Area is too close so airfare cannot compete with driving. Further afield (like form DFW), there are plenty of ski options if you are getting on a plane. So you are looking at primarily service from SoCal but only seasonally. Ultimately most airlines probably found it is not worth the trouble.
 
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LAXintl
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TLV) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 6:07 pm

Simply put there is no service because commercial service is not allowed at the airport.

The city vacated the airports FAA authority and has not had commercial air service since 2000. Even the airport's control tower closed.

You would first need the city even have the desire to reestablish commercial air service and then fund all the airport-related expenses.
Considering how issues like noise were always problematic, I don't see the community being too enthused at the idea.
Last edited by LAXintl on Wed May 16, 2018 6:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
Aviano789
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TLV) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 6:07 pm

bzcat wrote:
I'll venture a guess... Bay Area is too close so airfare cannot compete with driving. Further afield (like form DFW), there are plenty of ski options if you are getting on a plane. So you are looking at primarily service from SoCal but only seasonally. Ultimately most airlines probably found it is not worth the trouble.

When SoCal, PHX and even PSP is baking in the Summer heat South Lake Tahoe has always been a refuge destination.
Last edited by Aviano789 on Wed May 16, 2018 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
Aviano789
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TLV) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 6:12 pm

LAXintl wrote:
Simply put there is no service because commercial service is not allowed at the airport.

The city vacated the airports FAA authority and has not had commercial air service since 2000. Even the airport's control tower closed.

You would first need the city even have the desire to reestablish commercial air service and then fund all the airport-related expenses.
Considering how issues like noise were always problematic, I don't see the community being too enthused at the idea.

The City of South Lake Tahoe, as sponsor of the Airport, retains the right for commercial airline service. Airline service will improve the local economy by reducing traffic congestion and the vehicle miles traveled as well as provide a link into and out of the Basin in conjunction with the regional transportation plan while integrating all available local public/private transportation systems.
http://www.cityofslt.us/index.aspx?nid=182
 
CATIIIevery5yrs
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 6:13 pm

I’d be curious if there’s historical stats on how many scheduled commercial flights ended in a diversion. Could be a costly venture if the airplanes were regularly out of position and the operators had to spend money getting the passengers additional transportation to and from South Lake.
 
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LAXintl
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 6:14 pm

Read this story:

Will commercial service return to Lake Tahoe Airport? Not likely
https://www.tahoedailytribune.com/news/ ... ot-likely/

The Lake Tahoe Airport saw its last commercial flight in 2000, and in 2015, the South Lake Tahoe City Council unanimously agreed to give up its FAA certificate allowing commercial service.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
Aviano789
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 6:21 pm

LAXintl wrote:
Read this story:

Will commercial service return to Lake Tahoe Airport? Not likely
https://www.tahoedailytribune.com/news/ ... ot-likely/

The Lake Tahoe Airport saw its last commercial flight in 2000, and in 2015, the South Lake Tahoe City Council unanimously agreed to give up its FAA certificate allowing commercial service.

The City didn't surrender the certificate, it had been inactive for 4+ years due to poor airport management. The truth matters.
 
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janders
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 6:33 pm

Airport lacks required FAA Part 139 authority

https://www.faa.gov/airports/airport_sa ... -table.xls

Its not a cheap nor fast process to get is back even if the community desires it.


Aviano789 wrote:
The City didn't surrender the certificate, it had been inactive for 4+ years due to poor airport management. The truth matters.


The LAXintl linked article says city council voted unanimously to give up authority.
"We make war that we may live in peace." -- Aristotle
 
slcdeltarumd11
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 6:34 pm

I would guess the seasonal nature is the biggest challenge. RNO and even SMF are not that far away. RNO has well established and easy shuttle services to South Lake Tahoe.
 
MCIRNO
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 6:51 pm

QX with one of their Q400s could probably make money with flights from SJC and/or LAX but I'm 99.9% certain that commercial service will never come back. The locals just don't want it.

As an example, the NIMBYs currently are trying to ban ~1,800 vacation rental homes, just in the south shore. That alone is thousands of hotel nights that could vanish in an instant. As someone who lives nearby and is up there quite a bit, I can say it's an area whose residence live in a tourist area but want no tourists, so adding commercial service, even something like JetSuiteX or SurfAir, is going to be out of the question. RNO is an hour drive (SMF is two hours when it's not snowing) and it's closer to most of the north shore resorts, not counting all of its available lodging.
 
wnflyguy
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 7:00 pm

A private firm was trying to get AlaskaAir/ Horizon to bring back commercial air service. Just before they gave up the FAA authority requirements.
The locals fearing noise issues and impact on Home values raise hell.
The private firm later regrouped and focused it's investment a few miles south at another hip hot spot for winter time fun and got commercial air service going at MMH.

Since then South Lake Tahoe former passengers terminal got redone into a nice private jet terminal now catering to the richy richy.
I doubt their will ever be commercial air service again.
RNO now has a huge competitive edge over the market these days.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Flyguy
my post are my opinion only and not those of southwest airlines and or airtran airlines.
 
Aviano789
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 7:36 pm

slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
I would guess the seasonal nature is the biggest challenge. RNO and even SMF are not that far away. RNO has well established and easy shuttle services to South Lake Tahoe.

During the Winter months, it can be a living hell trying to get up that mountain via Mount Rose, or even Hwy 80 to Truckee then take 89 via Tahoe City to South Shore.
 
TSS
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 7:39 pm

slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
I would guess the seasonal nature is the biggest challenge. RNO and even SMF are not that far away. RNO has well established and easy shuttle services to South Lake Tahoe.


In addition, hotels in Reno offer shuttle service to Lake Tahoe during ski season.

Edited to add: I'd imagine landing at the Lake Tahoe airport carried a fairly high "pucker factor" for those who were less than sanguine about flying in general.
Last edited by TSS on Wed May 16, 2018 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Aviano789
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 7:48 pm

wnflyguy wrote:
A private firm was trying to get AlaskaAir/ Horizon to bring back commercial air service. Just before they gave up the FAA authority requirements.
The locals fearing noise issues and impact on Home values raise hell.
The private firm later regrouped and focused it's investment a few miles south at another hip hot spot for winter time fun and got commercial air service going at MMH.

Since then South Lake Tahoe former passengers terminal got redone into a nice private jet terminal now catering to the richy richy.
I doubt their will ever be commercial air service again.
RNO now has a huge competitive edge over the market these days.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Flyguy

TVL is located in El Dorado County, at least two county supervisor have held informal discussions with the FAA and one major carrier. My guess is they are looking to generate new revenues by re-opening the airport for commercial flights.
 
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Door4Right
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 7:48 pm

I worked at Reno Air in the mid-90s and we flew there from SJC and (I think) SFO. Maybe So Cal too? Been a long time but I'm sure we went in there with the MD.
 
nine4nine
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 8:56 pm

LAXintl wrote:
Read this story:

Will commercial service return to Lake Tahoe Airport? Not likely
https://www.tahoedailytribune.com/news/ ... ot-likely/

The Lake Tahoe Airport saw its last commercial flight in 2000, and in 2015, the South Lake Tahoe City Council unanimously agreed to give up its FAA certificate allowing commercial service.



I believe the last commercial service Lake Tahoe saw was G4 DC-9 service to and from BUR in mid-late 1999.
717 727 732 733 734 735 73G 738 739 742 748 752 753 762 763 772 773 DC9 MD80/88/90 DC10 319 320 321 332 333 CS100 CRJ200 Q400 E175 E190 ERJ145 EMB120
 
N212R
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 8:58 pm

Aviano789 wrote:
Back in the late 70s and early 80s the only way to get from Southern California to South Lake Tahoe in under 12 plus hour drive was by hoping one of a the few available flights from operators, like Air Cal, PSA, Hughes Air west. Golden West Airlines to name a few others who would eventually abandon the route because of weight restrictions, coupled with crippling loss of revenue and other operating factors such as heavy competition from well-established and safer Reno International (RTIA).

As South Lake Tahoe is still a great vacation spot almost year round, would any of the majors airlines re-consider establishing direct flights from PHX, SAN. SNA, BUR, ONT, LAX, or even as far away as DFW, to TVL to save the hassle of driving up the mountain from Reno?


Your premise is faulty from the get go. The drive between SoCal and "South" Lake Tahoe (varying slightly based on exact location) even in the late 70's was not near 12 hours. I could drive from the west side of LA to Heavenly Valley in 8-9 hours. The distance from LA to Tahoe is a little over 450 miles.
 
N212R
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 9:04 pm

MCIRNO wrote:
As an example, the NIMBYs currently are trying to ban ~1,800 vacation rental homes, just in the south shore.


And the anti-NIMBY's are a bunch of flabby-assed developers who never saw an open space in which they didn't want to put up a matchstick house. Keep Tahoe Blue!
 
codc10
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 9:18 pm

The extension of 580 around Carson City to 50 makes getting to SLT from RNO pretty easy, barring foul weather (which would be an issue driving any other way, and definitely flying into TVL).

In my book, Reno is in 2nd place when it comes to drives from major airports to ski areas (with multiple hills). SLC is a clear #1 in terms of ease of access, but RNO to the various Tahoe resorts is preferable to the I-70 drive from DEN, IMO. I love flying into ski towns, but unless nonstop service on mainline jets is available, it's often just as fast to fly into the largest nearby airport and make the drive, considering reliability.
 
jetwet1
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 9:21 pm

Aviano789 wrote:
slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
I would guess the seasonal nature is the biggest challenge. RNO and even SMF are not that far away. RNO has well established and easy shuttle services to South Lake Tahoe.

During the Winter months, it can be a living hell trying to get up that mountain via Mount Rose, or even Hwy 80 to Truckee then take 89 via Tahoe City to South Shore.



We have a place at Squaw Valley, during the winter we are up there probably once a month, we fly into RNO then drive up to Squaw, the reality is, for 99.9% of the people go go to Tahoe and the surrounding area, RNO or SMF work fine as already mentioned.

The issue comes when a big storm rolls in, but of course, I big storm will also close TVL.
 
DCAfan
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 9:33 pm

I once reviewed the noise ordinances at Lake Tahoe and found them impossible to work with from a commercial aviation standpoint.

Airplanes are much quieter than they once were, perhaps a review might be in order.
 
slcdeltarumd11
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 9:54 pm

codc10 wrote:
The extension of 580 around Carson City to 50 makes getting to SLT from RNO pretty easy, barring foul weather (which would be an issue driving any other way, and definitely flying into TVL).

In my book, Reno is in 2nd place when it comes to drives from major airports to ski areas (with multiple hills). SLC is a clear #1 in terms of ease of access, but RNO to the various Tahoe resorts is preferable to the I-70 drive from DEN, IMO. I love flying into ski towns, but unless nonstop service on mainline jets is available, it's often just as fast to fly into the largest nearby airport and make the drive, considering reliability.


No question SLC is easy. EGE to Vail or Aspen is pretty easy too. ASE to Aspen is almost walkable lol but those flights are cancelled so often

Denver is just horrible these days to get to ski resorts. I have lots of friends who work the normal M-F 9-5 schedule and its horrific with traffic to get ski days in :( if you are lucky and get weekdays off its just the weather and cross country travelers with summer tires to worry about :)

The Denver I-70 traffic has gotten really bad compared to even 5 years ago its so much worse now with Denvers exploding population. People want to get some skiing in and then hit the road with what should be enough time until you face a mileS long backup on the uphill into the tunnel, you already know you will miss your flight, happens every week in ski season to lots of people. I

Friday night /Saturday/sunday if you leave after noon can be a true nightmare even in excellent weather. Denver has exploded so much in population and ski season passes have crashed so much in price, that combined with the tunnel, and the cross country drivers who have never seen snow is horrible.

Eagle County airport exists for a reason, its way way easier from the other side :)
 
cschleic
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 10:03 pm

slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
I would guess the seasonal nature is the biggest challenge. RNO and even SMF are not that far away. RNO has well established and easy shuttle services to South Lake Tahoe.


Tahoe is a year-round area. Yes, skiing in winter, but plenty of summer activities, too. If you're going to the north side, RNO is very close. The drive up from Sacramento can be terrible depending on weather. Going to the south side, it's longer.
 
BoeingGuy
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 10:26 pm

Door4Right wrote:
I worked at Reno Air in the mid-90s and we flew there from SJC and (I think) SFO. Maybe So Cal too? Been a long time but I'm sure we went in there with the MD.


QQ only ever did LAX-TVL. There was a short lived airline called Tahoe Air that did SJC-TVL with 737-200s.

PSA and Air California supposedly had great loads to TVL. Problem was they had to maintain a sub-fleet of old Electras for it. PSA applies to fly 727s there and was denied.
 
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Door4Right
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 10:45 pm

BoeingGuy wrote:
Door4Right wrote:
I worked at Reno Air in the mid-90s and we flew there from SJC and (I think) SFO. Maybe So Cal too? Been a long time but I'm sure we went in there with the MD.


QQ only ever did LAX-TVL. There was a short lived airline called Tahoe Air that did SJC-TVL with 737-200s.

PSA and Air California supposedly had great loads to TVL. Problem was they had to maintain a sub-fleet of old Electras for it. PSA applies to fly 727s there and was denied.


Thanks for jogging my memory. I was based in SJC so had Bay Area on the brain. But I was right in thinking Southern California--I just wasn't sure how we got from here to there to...there! ;)

And I remember Tahoe Air and their 73s. There was some connection (wet lease?) to Casino Express, which eventually morphed into Xtra Airways. Thanks again.
 
Wingtips56
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Wed May 16, 2018 11:42 pm

I used to be on the receiving end of TVL and RNO diversions into SMF. No picnic. The first was a Golden West DH7 that dropped in late in the evening when I was working WestAir. GW didn't fly to SMF, so the airport thought it was a good idea to send it to the old Commuter Terminal. Two of us were the only ones on duty for WestAir and it was after hours for the other operators. The GW folks yelled at us for a nasty while, as if it was our fault and as if we could do anything about it. Finally GW called and said to put them back on the plane. I don't remember where it went.
We used to hear and see the Air California Electras rumble in over a the OC gate now and then. Once it a rare while it was a sub for the 731/732, but more often it was a TVL diversion.
By the time I was hired over at OC, the Electras had been retired again and TVL service ended. But we'd get RNO diversions now and then, with a loaded DC-9-80. We used to try to bus the folks over the hill, but they'd be crawling through the snow or even turn back if I-80 was closed. Or the bus companies would decline up front. RNO was much more likely to open before the highway did. Or, we would have busses show up having come over the hill from RNO, and didn't always know they were coming. Oy.....what a mess. Eventually AirCal wised up and stopped sending us the diversions (and later the restored TVL diversions), sending them back to the Bay or So. Cal, because it was better than the snow-bound bus ops.

AirCal did restore service to TVL with the DC-9-80, and I believe they had a revenue guarantee with the So. Lake casinos. They were somewhat problematic because they had weight restrictions if the landing and departures were facing the mountains, due to reduced lift at that elevation, and the proximity of the mountains (arrivals too, in the event of a go-around). They would drop cargo and all the non-revs at the origin, as they didn't want to have to divert to RNO for non-revs if the approach changed and their weight made the difference. Years later they changed out the entire DC-9-80 fleet for the 737-300, which had much better performance, and made TVL somewhat more reliable. They also had to de-ice much less often as compared to those skinny winged DC-9s.
We would get independent folks and all of the TVL-departing non-revs driving over the hill to SMF on some of those bad days, but not the planes.


I have to say, I did get to see the DC-9s on approach a couple of times looking down into the canyon from Highway 50, up at the top of the Meyers Grade. Gorgeous sight!
Worked for WestAir, Apollo Airways, Desert Pacific, Western, AirCal and American Airlines (Retired). My Flight Memory: 178 airports, 89 airlines, 71 a/c types, 397 routes, 56 countries (by air), 6 continents. 1,101,154 miles, as a passenger.
 
wedgetail737
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Thu May 17, 2018 12:34 am

Didn't AA continue the TVL service briefly after the OC/AA merger. Don't forget there was also Sierra Expressway flying Jetstreams between OAK-TVL.

Doesn't anyone remember that Truckee also had commuter airline service back in the 1970's and 1980's.
 
wedgetail737
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Thu May 17, 2018 12:36 am

MCIRNO wrote:
QX with one of their Q400s could probably make money with flights from SJC and/or LAX but I'm 99.9% certain that commercial service will never come back. The locals just don't want it.

As an example, the NIMBYs currently are trying to ban ~1,800 vacation rental homes, just in the south shore. That alone is thousands of hotel nights that could vanish in an instant. As someone who lives nearby and is up there quite a bit, I can say it's an area whose residence live in a tourist area but want no tourists, so adding commercial service, even something like JetSuiteX or SurfAir, is going to be out of the question. RNO is an hour drive (SMF is two hours when it's not snowing) and it's closer to most of the north shore resorts, not counting all of its available lodging.


The QX Q400's could do pretty much ANY airport in CA, on top of TVL.
 
Wingtips56
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Thu May 17, 2018 12:45 am

wedgetail737 wrote:
Didn't AA continue the TVL service briefly after the OC/AA merger.

Yes, but it was with the inherited OC 733s. I'm not sure if TVL closing coincided with the 733 being retired out from AA (most went to WN including the last 2 NTU by OC/AA), or if the station closed ahead of that. They did bring Eagle (RM/Wings West) for a while.
Worked for WestAir, Apollo Airways, Desert Pacific, Western, AirCal and American Airlines (Retired). My Flight Memory: 178 airports, 89 airlines, 71 a/c types, 397 routes, 56 countries (by air), 6 continents. 1,101,154 miles, as a passenger.
 
MrBretz
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Thu May 17, 2018 1:11 am

I recall flying on AirCal from SNA to Tahoe several times on Electras. I recall being warned of a very rapid decent after they crossed the mountains when they landed there. And each time several people used barf bags. I don't recall anything like that on leaving. I only went up there in the summer because some friends had access to a cabin for a month or two back then. I can't imagine landing there in a snow storm. And yes the planes were noisy so I can imagine the NIMBY folks speaking up.

Normally, now, we fly into SMF and drive up to the foothills to stay with friends. From there, we drive to Tahoe for a couple nights.
 
Chasensfo
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Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Thu May 17, 2018 3:13 am

I am loving all the stories in this thread, thank you for these!

I was aware that since 1999, TVL had been sitting on air carrier slots that could have been used, this thread is the first I have heard about the city eliminating those slots. Very, very disappointing.

If Tahoe flights "didn't make money", Air California would not have brought back the Electras from retirement to service the route! Lol.

In addition to the other information in this thread, what really did Tahoe in was the lull in service that posed an opportunity for NIMBYs to block new flights from forming. From the late 70s to the mid/late 90s, TVL was relatively well-served by several carriers. Best I can tell, traffic in TVL seemed to peak between 1991 and 1995, then quickly began to taper off. Here is a rough idea of what air service in Tahoe was like by the 90s and how it tapered off:

American: AirCal was at one point the largest carrier at TVL, and the flights were inherited by American, who first kept 737-300s flying into the airport but quickly downgraded to Wings West Metroliners by the 90s flying as American Eagle. However, the metroliners flew a decent route network connecting not only the SJC hub to TVL, but also SFO and several other cities(there is a picture in the TVL terminal of at least 5 metros lined up at once). The routes switched to the Saab 340 by the mid 90s, and went away soon after as American decided to consolidate most of its operations to hubs and winded down SJC(which was re-hubbed after the merger with Reno Air) which meant the end of service to most of the smaller cities in Northern California.

RenoAir flew MD-87s(for preformance, though I'm not sure if MD-80s were used initially as I've seen a pic of one there). I read that this route was subsidized, and I suppose as soon as that dried up, the route was dropped by late 96/early 97 just prior to the start of the AA merger.

WestAir flew EMB-120s from SFO and LAX on behalf of United Express in the mid-90s, but people working at SFO on the time recall severe reliablity issues with the EMB-120 on that route. Namely weight restrictions and the very small pit being unable to house the skis. I think by 1995, United Express was gone.

Sierra Expressway was an Oakland-based start up flying JS-31s in 1995-96 and served TVL from both OAK and MRY. The airline folded after just a few months.

Alpha Air began flying 3 B1900Cs on behalf of TWA Express to TVL from both SFO and LAX, both non-stop and on a LAX-MMH-TVL route. The service went from 1993-1995 or 1996 I think, and went away when TWA elected to end the West Coast express operation.

Allegiant Air entered the market in the late 90s, flying a DC-9-14 to TVL from FAT, BUR, and LAS(not all at the same time). From my understanding, they were basically booted from TVL in hopes of Tahoe Air expansion.

Tahoe Air was very short-lived in 1999, first operated by Casino Express in a fully painted 737-200 flying to LAX/SJC, but later with a LorAir 737-200 in their colors when Casino Express bailed on Tahoe Air! There were plans to grow with MD-80s, but these never came to be. The 737-200s were very premium heavy, I think "Diamond Class" had 30+ seats! Didn't seem like a solid plan, especially with Casino traffic dwindling.

And then, there were none. And the NIMBYs decided that was that. Largely not much fault of South Lake Tahoe as a market. Surfair does serve TRK "up the road", however. Sad how quickly TVL went from being served by United, TWA, American, Sierra Expressway, and RenoAir all at once...to nothing.
 
SurfandSnow
Posts: 1215
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:09 am

Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Thu May 17, 2018 3:26 am

No need for commercial air service at TVL when South Lake Tahoe overwhelmingly caters to the drive-in crowd. Most of the fancier accommodations and wealthier residents are on the opposite end of the lake anyways. I have no idea what it was like in the past, but these days, there is little more to South Lake Tahoe than casinos, cheap motels and strip malls. Like Branson, MO or Panama City, FL it is a very popular place to drive to - but hardly a place you would ever think of flying to. Skiers in other states have far better options closer to home - why would somebody from New York fly to Tahoe and endure slushy, crowded, rarely challenging conditions when the likes of Jackson Hole, Steamboat Springs or Aspen are hours closer?
Flying in the middle seat of coach is much better than not flying at all!
 
MCIRNO
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon May 14, 2018 2:49 pm

Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Thu May 17, 2018 1:59 pm

SurfandSnow wrote:
No need for commercial air service at TVL when South Lake Tahoe overwhelmingly caters to the drive-in crowd. Most of the fancier accommodations and wealthier residents are on the opposite end of the lake anyways. I have no idea what it was like in the past, but these days, there is little more to South Lake Tahoe than casinos, cheap motels and strip malls. Like Branson, MO or Panama City, FL it is a very popular place to drive to - but hardly a place you would ever think of flying to. Skiers in other states have far better options closer to home - why would somebody from New York fly to Tahoe and endure slushy, crowded, rarely challenging conditions when the likes of Jackson Hole, Steamboat Springs or Aspen are hours closer?


It's actually busier in the summer (between Memorial Day and Labor Day) than in the winter; nevertheless, I agree, unless you live in California or Nevada, you generally have much more closer options to ski...without the "Sierra Concrete" snow.

Panama City did build a new airport and it seems to be growing; Branson built a new airport and it's been an interesting watch. I guess in all three places, as with everything, it's a matter of supply and demand and if there was a demand for flights to TVL an airline would find a way to supply them.
 
Aviano789
Topic Author
Posts: 94
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2017 5:00 pm

Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Thu May 17, 2018 2:48 pm

cschleic wrote:
slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
I would guess the seasonal nature is the biggest challenge. RNO and even SMF are not that far away. RNO has well established and easy shuttle services to South Lake Tahoe.


Tahoe is a year-round area. Yes, skiing in winter, but plenty of summer activities, too. If you're going to the north side, RNO is very close. The drive up from Sacramento can be terrible depending on weather. Going to the south side, it's longer.

Hwy 50 from SMF to South Shore is nightmare during Summer, the Winter months from Pollock Pines up to Echo summit is always a hassle and some times a no go.
 
UWPAviation
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2016 7:36 pm

Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Thu May 17, 2018 3:18 pm

Reno and Sacramento are close enough. Reno even has shuttle services. Tahoe's FAA certificate is expired too. Its big money and takes a LONG time to get that back....

Of course does that mean Tahoe is dead? No, they could always try to get air service back. However when you have alternatives that are very established, like Reno and Sacramento, its hard.
 
Aviano789
Topic Author
Posts: 94
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2017 5:00 pm

Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Thu May 17, 2018 5:36 pm

wedgetail737 wrote:
MCIRNO wrote:
QX with one of their Q400s could probably make money with flights from SJC and/or LAX but I'm 99.9% certain that commercial service will never come back. The locals just don't want it.

As an example, the NIMBYs currently are trying to ban ~1,800 vacation rental homes, just in the south shore. That alone is thousands of hotel nights that could vanish in an instant. As someone who lives nearby and is up there quite a bit, I can say it's an area whose residence live in a tourist area but want no tourists, so adding commercial service, even something like JetSuiteX or SurfAir, is going to be out of the question. RNO is an hour drive (SMF is two hours when it's not snowing) and it's closer to most of the north shore resorts, not counting all of its available lodging.


The QX Q400's could do pretty much ANY airport in CA, on top of TVL.

Most engines are quieter today than 20 years ago. Like other big airports with noise abatement procedures or even curfews, I can see operators of Q400s or smaller birds schedule two rotation daily from cities like ONT, BUR, SFO OAK, SJC and even PSP to arrive early mornings after 8:00 AM and a late afternoon departure no later than 7:00PM.
 
timz
Posts: 6389
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 1999 7:43 am

Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Thu May 17, 2018 6:21 pm

wedgetail737 wrote:
Truckee also had commuter airline service back in the 1970's and 1980's.

Anyone know when?
 
Chasensfo
Posts: 69
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:07 am

Re: Why operating into South Lake Tahoe (TVL) by Major Air & Commuter Carriers was never profitable?

Fri May 18, 2018 7:44 am

timz wrote:
wedgetail737 wrote:
Truckee also had commuter airline service back in the 1970's and 1980's.

Anyone know when?

Just about non-stop from the 60s to the mid 90s. This list is from wikipedia, but it includes "same plane" thru flights like TVL-SNA-ORD, where of course ORD was never non-stop on AirCal or anyone else. A ton of commuters:

Air California / AirCal: Burbank, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Orange County, San Francisco, San Jose
Air Pacific (United States): Stockton, San Francisco
Air Sierra: Fresno, Mammoth Lakes
Allegiant Air: Burbank, Fresno, Las Vegas, Long Beach
Alpha Air (TWA Express code share with Beechcraft 1900Cs): Los Angeles, Mammoth Lakes, Orange County, Palm Springs, San Francisco
American Airlines: San Francisco, San Jose
American Eagle (Wings West Airlines): Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose
Aspen Airways: Burbank, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose
Cal Sierra Airlines: San Diego
Golden Gate Airlines: Reno, San Francisco
Golden West Airlines: Los Angeles, Ontario, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco
Great Sierra Airlines: Fresno, Oakland, Reno, San Jose, Truckee
Hawthorne Nevada Airlines: Hawthorne, NV
Holiday Airlines: Burbank, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose
Pacific Air Lines / Air West / Hughes Airwest: Los Angeles, Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and other California cities
Pacific Coast Airlines: San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Barbara
Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA): Burbank, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Ontario, San Diego, San Francisco
Paradise Airlines: Oakland, San Jose
Reno Air: Los Angeles
Royal American Airways: Las Vegas, Oakland
Sierra Expressway: Oakland
Sierra Pacific Airlines: Monterey, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose (this mid 1960s commuter air carrier is not to be confused with Sierra Pacific Airlines which was a separate airline that operated in California in the 1970s)
Skymark Airlines: Fresno, Monterey, Oakland, Sacramento, San Jose
Tahoe Air: Los Angeles, San Jose
Valley Airlines - Reno, San Francisco, San Jose, Stockton
Yosemite Airlines: Columbia, CA, Monterey, San Francisco

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