More on the Alaska pull-out
The Alaska announcement has me wondering. Is this a page from the Trump negotiating playbook? (Yes tariffs, no tariffs, yes tariffs, yes a meeting with Kim, no meeting, yes a meeting).
What small airline turns down a guaranteed stream of revenue and profit in such a fickle industry (how many times has United filed bankruptcy?). Could it be that, with the new upscale Mountain ownership and the debate over airport location, Alaska feels this is the way to negotiate a better deal? Six months notice is plenty of time for us to see how serious Alaska is about leaving, and how serious the new Mountain is about backing out of its Mammoth airport funding commitment. Personally, I hope both are posturing. Losing Mammoth air service after what it cost us to get it (i.e. the bankruptcy) would be a travesty.
As for primary service to Bishop, not sure what folks are thinking. Smaller planes to Mammoth can’t be filled but big jets to Bishop magically will be? Angelenos who couldn’t be coaxed to fly direct to Mammoth in adequate numbers will fly to Bishop to diddle around during a passenger and luggage transfer to a bus, and sit for an extra hour bus ride up Sherwin grade? (Only to turn around in the same whiteout conditions that prevent Mammoth landings. Or wait for the bus to put on chains and drive at 35 miles an hour making it a 2 hour drive.) Talk about yet another square peg in a round hole.
If other folks want to invest a lot of money on a Bishop airport to attract the perceived business from Phoenix and Houston and St. Louis, great. But Alaska had two daily flights to Los Angeles. Add in San Francisco and San Diego and that’s four roundtrips a day to and from Bishop that buses will have to run. Then throw in the big jet from Houston, Phoenix and St. Louis that needs three buses for passengers and luggage, and you need a whole fleet of $300,000 motor coaches, multiple $100,000 a year union/pension drivers, bus mechanics, ground transfer crews, the lost luggage clerk … Who is going to pay for this nonstop fleet?
Whichever way it all goes, let’s hope we don’t leave common sense, and our dollars, out in the cold. But somehow I get the feeling neither the Mountain nor the airline but rather you and I are going to be paying that multimillion dollar bill for the “must have” Bishop International Airport. Kind of like we are paying for the previous “absolutely must have” Mammoth airstrip that will now lie fallow.
The fact of the matter is air service to Mammoth airport is inherently imperfect, but maybe we just need to recognize that and work with that rather than let someone make us pay to chase yet an even more imperfect solution.