FAA reps “excited” about possibility of regional Eastern Sierra air service
Members of the Mono-Inyo Air Working Group were invited to discuss air service with representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Thursday, January 25 in Mammoth Lakes. The meeting was followed by a tour of the Mammoth-Yosemite Airport. The gathering, which was held in Suite Z and was referred to by Mammoth Lakes Public Works Director Grady Dutton as a “series of staff presentations,” was not publicly noticed, and invitations were sent via email by Dutton on Tuesday, January 23. Representatives from the FAA also planned to tour the Bishop Airport on Friday, January 26.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the future of reliable regional air service in the Eastern Sierra. Inyo County Supervisors and Mammoth’s Town Council signed a “Statement of Intent” for cooperation last week (see “Eastside Airports Get Serious,” January 20).
“I’m excited,” said Mark McClardy, Director of the FAA Western Pacific Region, at the January 25 meeting in Suite Z. “I’ve been waiting for this day to come. I think you’re on the right path.”
McClardy was joined by Al Richardson and Manson Wong, (Assistant Manger and Engineer, respectively, from the FAA’s Los Angeles Airports District Office) and Laurie Suttmeier and Camille Garibaldi (Assistant Manager and Environmental Protection Specialist, respectively, of the FAA’s San Francisco Airports District Office).
McClardy made it clear that regional air service, with the ultimate goal of the Eastern Sierra receiving long-haul flights from cities like Chicago, Illinois and Dallas, Texas, would be more attainable if there were cooperation between Inyo County and Mammoth Lakes.
“Whether it’s a Joint Powers [Authority] or a shared approach to both airfields, it’s an opportunity for you minimize difficulties by having both as one unit, and to maximize [the] benefits and attractiveness” of flying into the region, said McClardy. “We’ve got to be careful, but [the FAA] can provide all the technical assistance you need to inform yourself.”
At January 17 meeting, Mammoth’s Town Council also adopted the Airport Capital Improvement Plan, which seeks funds from the FAA to improve infrastructure at MMH. It calls for a new airline terminal apron, terminal building, a wildlife fence, and wider aprons and taxiways, among other projects, at a total cost of $51,621,450. Almost 47 million of those funds would be paid for by the FAA, with the Town of Mammoth Lakes providing close to $5 million.