Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Mexican airline courts Kern County
The Associated Press

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) – Mexicana Airlines has offered to help out Kern County residents, whose most popular flight destination is Guadalajara. To fly to Mexico, southern Central Valley residents have had to drive to Los Angeles, making the trip longer and more expensive. But now the company has given county officials a letter of intent showing it would offer four direct flights a week from the Meadows Field airport to Guadalajara – if the county can secure the help of the U.S. Customs Service, a requirement before an airport can host international flights.

This would not only help area residents – it would also bring revenues to the county-owned airport. Now about 74 percent of county residents who go to Guadalajara start their flights at the Los Angeles International Airport, said county Airports Director Ray Bishop.

The federal government would cover the costs of opening a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office in Meadows Field, but first the county has to show it has sufficient passenger traffic, and the right facilities. If not, the county has to shoulder the cost, which is estimated at around $1.2 million, Bishop said.

Airline officials said they hope to start serving the Central Valley as early as April 2005.