Meadows Field Airport Bouncing Back from economic slump – Officials said more people have been flying in and out of Meadows Field overthe last couple of years. So much so, they are considering adding more flights.
In 2007, the airport took a hit, losing three airlines and thousands of passengers. But, in the last two years it’s been looking up, and airport
officials are thanking the oil industry.
“It’s a small airport,” said Leah Wheeler who was flying from Bakersfield to Houston Friday. “I wasn’t expecting as many people this early.”
That’s how weekday mornings look at Meadows Field between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m.
“This is a bit of a surprise this morning,” said Scott Drake of Rock Springs, Wyoming.
Some waited in line to check in at least an hour because there are four flights Friday morning and most are totally booked.
“Always full last few years at least,” said Gary Rogers who was flying home to Knoxville, Tennessee after the World Ag Expo in Tulare.
Jack Gotcher, Director of Airports for Kern County, said half of their flights are from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. He said the most popular flights are to
Houston and Denver where most of the passengers are oil executives like Scott Drake.
Drake took a flight from Denver to Bakersfield this week that was full of passengers headed to the oil fields.
“It was really full on the plane,” said Drake. “I think there were two seats left.”
These packed flights are increasing the number of boardings and deboardings at Meadows Field.
“In the past year and a half, it’s up 25 percent,” said Gotcher.
Car rentals are up five percent, a big improvement from 2007 when the economy crashed and the airport lost three airlines.
“We went from 175,000 passengers to 106,000,” said Gotcher.
Back then, they cut employees, now they’re hiring back.
“We had dropped to about 13 people and now we’re back up to about 20,” said Gotcher.
They’re even asking U.S. Airways to add flights to Denver and Houston.
“If we can convince them we are a good route and they have an airplane, then they will do it,” said Gotcher.
This is an exciting prospect for passengers.
“Even though I don’t come here that often, it would be a bit more convenient,” said Rogers.
Gotcher said he has a conference in May where discussions of adding flights may ramp up.