MCKINLEYVILLE – As Humboldt County travelers have one less option as of Monday, the Arcata-Eureka Airport last Friday received a call from PenAir saying that they are stopping service on their flights to and from Portland beginning today.
Penair is one of Humboldt County’s two airlines and will no longer be offering non-stop flights to Portland.
Airport Program Coordinator Emily Jacobs says with Pilots mandatory retirement being at 65, more pilots are leaving the business than entering it, putting a strain on smaller markets.
“The reason that we’re seeing this decline in the regional market right now, or availability of regional flights is a national pilot shortage that is that’s going on, and that is the root of the problem,” says Jacobs.
For the airlines this means there are not enough pilots to fly their routes and therefore fewer routes are being offered.
Unfortunately for passengers regularly traveling to Portland there is no plan for another direct flight to Portland anytime soon.
“I’m either going to drive the 8 hour drive or I’m going to have to fly to San Francisco and then back up, which takes up a lot of time. I mean it’s going to cost a lot more money to figure another plan out,” says Penair customer Jon Schjei.
Executive Director of the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission, Gregg Foster, says many passengers were flying on the flights that have been canceled making it a potential market for another airline.
“It’s unfortunate that’s a number of passengers will be negatively affected you know 50-60 people a day. We’ve got to get an alternative for those folks and that’s what we’re doing,” says Foster.
As of tomorrow and all flights out of here will be to San Francisco where passengers will be there to get onto a connecting flight to their destination.
Foster says that right now they are focusing on contacting airlines and continuing to pursue getting another airline to the Humboldt County Airport.
As of now there are no set plans for another airline to come fill PenAir’s spot or for United to offer more destinations from Humboldt County.