Why did flight service to Las Vegas fail so miserably?
What I’m about to tell you is not a myth of the Loch Ness, but a true story.
Once upon a time, Mammoth actually had commercial air service to Las Vegas. And it wasn’t that long ago.
One flight a day was offered on Thursdays and Mondays during the 2014-2015 ski season.
According to Mammoth Airport records, 836 people flew Alaska Airlines on this route in the winter of 2014-2015, filling 25 percent of the available seats.
As you might imagine, 25 percent is a pretty underwhelming number. So Alaska Airlines pulled the plane and the plug on the service after one season.
As an air marketing expert familiar with the deal told The Sheet this week, “One of the biggest obstacles for Alaska Airlines is that Las Vegas is not a focus city, as opposed to, say, San Diego, where you get a lot more free exposure in that market…initially, you have to make sure the fundamentals are there [when building a new route]. I don’t think there was any surety of that at the time of commitment to the flight.”
The expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mammoth would have needed to achieve at least 50 percent load factors to consider continuing the service. “The short answer is that Alaska didn’t see a future.”
So why did it tank so badly? Mammoth Lakes second homeowner and Las Vegas residen John Haycock, who took the flight a few times, said “the obvious reason it wasn’t more successful is that it wasn’t promoted well enough…I’m from Las Vegas. I wanted to see it succeed. I never saw a billboard, an ad in the newspaper or on television, not even ads within the airport itself. I spoke to [MLT Executive Director] John Urdi about it a few times, but nothing really happened. The buck always got passed.”
Haycock said his daughter, who works for the local Fox affiliate in Vegas, even offered to do a story, but no one followed up with her.
One of Haycock’s son’s best friends is Shawn McGhie, whose family owns McGhie’s Ski Bike and Boards. McGhie’s has three locations in the Las Vegas area.