Airline cuts flights from SLO airport in half

March 13, 2015


The breadth of SkyWest Airlines’ changes at the San Luis Obispo Airport became a lot clearer this week with the airline cutting the number of flights coming into and out of the airport by more than half.

SkyWest Airlines is downsizing it daily flights leaving San Luis Obispo from 11 a day to five a day. Beginning on April 7, there will be only two trips a day from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco and three to Los Angeles.

A month ago, Avila Beach resident Saro Rizzo booked a flight for his family’s summer vacation from San Luis Obispo to Milan, Italy. The Rizzos were slated to leave SLO at 5:11 p.m. for a 7:05 p.m. connection to Europe. However, the airline has since rerouted the family because of its flight reductions.

“I was notified last week by United Airlines that my fight was changed and that I must now fly from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles at 2:15 p.m. and then take another plane from Los Angeles to San Francisco at 4:45 p.m. in order to make my 7:05 p.m. connection to Europe,” Rizzo said. “Basically, it adds one more flight and roughly three hours to my trip with a 5 year old and a toddler.”

With the new changes, come less options for travelers. For example, a traveler wanting to leave San Luis Obispo in the morning and connect through Los Angeles for other travel destinations will no longer have a 7:45 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. departure option available as the earliest morning departure for Los Angeles will be at 10:40 a.m.

Headed to San Francisco, your only options from the San Luis Obispo Airport will be at 6:20 a.m. or 8:35 p.m.

In November, SkyWest Airlines announced it was replacing all its 30-seat turboprop aircrafts with 50-seat regional jets. The airline said the change would, “”improve SkyWest’s overall efficiency and long-term profitability.”

For the past several years, the airport has struggled with financial challenges at the facility, where revenue has been falling since 2005.

Since 2010, airport management has been working to relocate and expand the airport’s existing passenger terminal.

In July, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve the overall design for a new airport terminal.

The new terminal is estimated to cost between $27 million and $29 million. Of that, about $18 million will be garnered through grants, $7 million from the county and $4.7 million from customer facility charges, which are acquired through the rental car operations at the airport.


Sure, we all would love a new terminal, but there is no way to justify it. SLO County can’t event seem to pay for proper upkeep and maintenance of the current terminal. Have you seen the dilapidated restrooms? Ugh! How about some new carpeting or paint, too?

Really, SLO, this is our airline portal? How about fixing what you have, before asking for something shiny and new.

And, to say the facility charges will be paid by “the rental car operations” is typical government nonsense. The rental car companies simply add those charges to the invoice for the customer. It is not paid by “the rental car companies,” and to think it is absorbed by them is just foolishness.

The “if you build it they will come” philosophy is the most common and biggest fallacy embraced by any airport governing board. Has anyone asked the airlines if they will increase service if we build a big, fancy terminal? Because, I can guarantee you it will not increase traffic, but it will increase costs!

SLO County should drop the DREAM of a big airport, and embrace the quaintness of what we already have – and paint it!


Hot water in the restrooms for hand washing would be an improvement as well. There has not been hot water in years.


One word: GRANT.

It’s like anything else in government, do whatever you can to to get that grant money. Even if that means shooting yourself in the foot. Multiple times.


The money being wasted on some of these regional airports is just obscene. That 18 million grant? Federal money.

Back when I lived in SLO we found that if you got six people going on the same trip it was cheaper and just as fast to hire a limo round trip to LAX. Plus they picked you up at your house and brought you back!

And it’s not just SLO, Up here in Newport Oregon they just finished an 8 million dollar upgrade of the local airport where there are NO commercial flights almost all funded by the feds.

Slo needs to merge operations with Santa Maria and Santa Barbara at Santa Maria. It’s a much bigger and could better handle the larger commuter jets.


The money comes from fees placed on every ticket. It doesn’t come from Federal taxes. We shouldn’t turn up our noses at $18 million. The bigger problem is the philosophy of “If you build it, they will come”.

If the county built more aircraft hangers, they would make a big profit.


Nope, 18 million came from “grants” not fees. Who do you think “granted” Slo airport with 18 million dollars?


That seems to be the 18 million dollar question. As they are seeing this 18 mil as “free money” I have to wonder from whom and why is it “free money.”


It’s a “grant” based on fees collected on each ticket. Either you don’t fly much, or you don’t look at the breakdown of what’s on your ticket to not know this. Besides, the word “grant” is the reporter’s, so who knows how the feds describe it.


I know how I describe fees that I pay for things I don’t need= tax


Vagabond, I agree with you. I bet having all commercial service for the central coast out of Santa Maria would increase our options and be profitable for the airlines.

Mitch C

Several years ago I spent the day before Thanksgiving (supportively the busiest travel day of the year) from 4:30 a.m until 9:30 p.m. evaluating the need for a new terminal. My findings are that the terminal was never excessively crowded, the bathrooms were never crowded, and there appeared to be adequate areas under the existing structure to expand. There is no question that the building could use a facelift, but the existing terminal was more than adequate to deal with the number of passengers using the building. The thought that a new terminal is needed does not square with my experience. The $28,000,000 proposed terminal could be reduced in cost and size by eliminating the administrative offices proposed for the new terminal. If a new terminal is built, administrative staff could move to a renovated space in the existing terminal.


Not enough passengers = $$$$ fares,

$$$$ fares = driving to LAX or SFO.


There is a nice shuttle service from Santa Maria Airport to LAX at a reasonable price. So far, parking is free.


That shuttle service is $128 for one and $232 for two. They make seven round trips per day!


Stopped using that airport years ago even though I lived very close. We missed so many connections because of cancelled flights. Waiting for the 9:00pm flight to Vegas plane did not land in SLO went on to Santa Barbara because of the wind conditions. We were told to wait plane would come back. Waited till midnight and finally left, missed important meeting. Not reliable at all. Could not believe that they were expanding that airport terminal, what a waste of taxpayer money. Just like the bridge to nowhere and the bullet train…..

Money would be better spent on a Paso Robles airport we could keep the money in our County instead of Santa Barbara.


With the earliest flight to LA leaving at 10:40 AM, it will be much more difficult to travel east from SBP. :(


On the upside, I presume the number of delays and cancellations will also be halved.


This is happening at all of the smaller airports. The airlines are using larger planes. They need a crew for each plane. They used to move up to 330 people a day with 33 crew members (11 x 3). Now they will be able to move 250 people a day with 15 crew members.


If you have additional information, then correct me if I am wrong, but that doesn’t sound like when everything is considered that it would improve overall costs.

First, some costs are fixed, so losing 80 fares a day doesn’t mean the costs now sit at 250/330 of what they used to, but probably closer to 300/330 and I would think would be generous.

Second, it would seem the cost of the 50 passenger jets would be significantly higher in terms of maintenance, materials, lifespan, labor, and replacement costs.

It sounds to me like the typical modern day corporate move of reducing short term expenses to look good and make shareholders happy, while destroying the long term sustainability of the operation. Often this is done for the sole purpose of improving the income statement in order to seek a buyer and get the highest price possible. This is the kind of behavior that is destroying the foundations of our economy.

But again, please correct me if you have additional info.


You are so right. Also, Hamberger’s numbers aren’t correct. The larger planes have a crew of 4, 2 in cockpit, two in cabin, so it would be 20 crew instead of 15. There’s no savings other than on paper, so his/her point doesn’t make much sense.


The reason SkyWest has decided to phase out the turboprob EMB120 is because the company wants to standardize their fleet. It’s more cost effective and streamlined to have an entire fleet of the same aircraft. Southwest follows the same model and only flies one type of aircraft which keeps operating costs down.


It may be the beginning of the end for our local airport….may look more like S.Maria….a

couple of flights a week to Las Vegas….but, people I know who use it rave about the

free parking!!


The $12 per day parking at SBP is obscene, especially given the long uphill trek from lot to terminal. However, there’s a nice parking lot across the street for $4 per day. We’ve used it for extended trips — cheaper than a taxi or Rideon — and never had any problem.

Rich in MB

Folks….lets me honest here, I needed to book a flight to Texas for a business trip in March and could I fly out of SLO?

Heck no…so I’m driving to LAX. The SLO airport will always be a small town airport. You can cry about it all you want but there just isn’t the traffic to justify the larger routes and options here in SLO.

No City official would ever want to admit this…in the “Ra Ra..hey hey…I have a plan to grow it world” but folks, it’s time to wake up and smell the new housing track at the base of the runway the City WANTS to put in!


Your thought process is weird. Drive 4 hours to LA through all that traffic, go through LAX incredibly convoluted security, versus hopping a flight from SBP to PHX and then on to Texas. I sure know which I think is a better option. Do you actually plan such a trip, or is this just a rant?


I went to San Antonio through PHX last year and it was smooth and trouble free.

Rich in MB

Do it once a month. Leave Morro Bay at 3am and be at the gate 4hrs later without a hint of traffic…its called planning.