Inyo County, Town of Mammoth Lakes cozy up over reliable air service
The Town of Mammoth Lakes and Inyo County are now officially “going steady” when it comes to finding a solution for reliable regional air service in the Eastern Sierra.
Inyo County District 2 Supervisor Jeff Griffiths had previously said that the Town of Mammoth, which runs Mammoth-Yosemite Airport (MMH), and Inyo County, which has been working to get commercial certification for the Bishop Airport, were “still dating” when referring to possible collaboration between the entities (See “Inyo County and Mammoth Lakes ‘Still Dating,’” July 7).
At the meeting of the Mammoth-Inyo Air Working Group (MIAWG—pronounced “my-wog,” according to Mammoth Mayor John Wentworth) on Friday, October 13, a “framework for cooperation agreement” was approved by all members: Griffiths, Inyo County District 4 Supervisor Mark Tillemans, Wentworth, and Mammoth Town Council member Shields Richardson. MIAWG is a sub-committee of the Eastern Sierra Council of Governments (ESCOG), and its only formal members are the elected officials named above. However, other members present at the table included Inyo County Public Works Director Clint Quilter, Inyo CAO Kevin Carunchio, Mammoth’s Public Works Director Grady Dutton, and Town Manager Dan Holler.
“It’s a statement of intent,” said Quilter of the document. “Maybe we’re more comfortable with that than calling it an ‘agreement.’”
What this means is that, as Bishop Airport steadily marches towards gaining the “Part 139” certification it needs from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to run its own commercial flights, it may also soon be able to function as a bad weather backup for flights turned away from the notoriously windy MMH.
It also means that Bishop Airport, with its massive acreage (869 acres compared to MMH’s 205), structurally sound runways and more reliable weather, could potentially accept long-haul flights from big cities.
This would be a plus for Mammoth Mountain, which aims to be a destination not just for visitors from Southern California but for skiers nationwide. With the sale of Mammoth to Aspen-KSL and the potential for package passes for the 13 resorts now owned by that collective group, “I think we have the best opportunity to bring all those loyal guests [from other resorts] to Mammoth,” said MMSA’s Eric Clark on Friday. “Our interest is to make it easier for them to get here.”