PlanesNTrains wrote:flyfresno wrote:PlanesNTrains wrote:
Maybe BFL. I can see it.
I know that airport officials have been working on getting flights to SEA, but without subsidies, who knows if that will ever start...
SEA-BFL-SAN would be nice. BFL is just not a market I know much about.
Hello everyone! Please allow me to add my own first-hand knowledge of Bakersfield airport (BFL) to the discussion.
I was born and raised in Bakersfield, and lived there for 33 years until I moved to San Diego in 1999. I "apprenticed" with a travel agent friend, who nourished by airline-geekness by showing me the ins and outs of the airline world. I am old enough to remember the great United Airlines shut-down for several days in the late 1970's, and I remember United and Hughes Air West pulling out of BFL before President Carter had finished signing the legislation of airline deregulation in 1978. For six years, Bakersfield had almost NO airline service at all (scattered LAX flights came and went, but nothing permanent). It was August of 1984 when American Airlines announced MD80 service to DFW, and I thought, "well, maybe the city's time has come!" United returned, and SkyWest served as a Delta connection flight to LAX, and even Continental served BFL for a while after the Frontier acquisition.
But nothing really ever lasted. The first airline to return, American, faithfully served the DFW route for many years, even when Delta, Continental, and United mainline ended service. And then the day came in 1998 when American and American Eagle pulled out completely - our link to my mom's family in Arkansas (25 miles from FSM) was gone. Back to using LAX for that and adding 3-4 extra hours to the trip.
In my observations about airline service to BFL - in the pre-airliners.net days - I overheard what I discovered to be the key: business traffic. The business traffic simply isn't there in Bakersfield. Yes, there is the oil business, but that has had so many booms and busts that both AA and UA pulled out of the Texas markets. It was also pointed out to me that, like Stockton, Bakersfield is a relatively poor city. Yes, it is amazingly well-located to take advantage of its proximity to both southern California and northern California, but the mentality in Bakersfield has always been, "we're just a sleepy little town in the central valley, and we only want to be a quiet suburban community based on agriculture and oil. We don't want freeways, we don't want outsiders coming through, and if you want big city life, well, LA is just over the hill!" And yes, I've heard those exact words.
Couple all that with the close and (somewhat) convenient proximity of LAX, and you have an airport that is never going to thrive. In population, Bakersfield is the 9th largest city in California, and the 62nd most populous metropolitan area in the U.S., between Albany, NY, and Greenville-Spartanburg, SC (which itself is just after Albuquerque, NM). But as we all know, population isn't the driver of airline service - it's demand, and Bakersfield just simply doesn't have it. It somehow manages to hold onto two daily Denver flights and 1-2 SFO flights on United, and 3-4 flights to PHX, and that's it. The new DFW flight is subsidy based, and any service to SEA will have to be as well.
I have always hoped for more for Bakersfield, but there are so many self-induced issues that make it a completely different case than its nearest almost-twin, Fresno. The only service I can think of that actually might have been profitable for an airline without subsidies was ExpressJet, as their BFL-SMF flights, as the business traffic going up to Sacramento in the morning was on the same flight coming back in the evening. Why no other airline has tried that route, I don't know. Horizon/Alaska is the only airline I can think of that could make it work.