There’s been some chatter that Redding has landed an airline to replace Horizon, which in April ended a nearly 20-year run of service in Shasta County.
Airports Manager Rod Dinger told me the buzz stems from a letter the city received from Delta Air Lines in which the Atlanta-based carrier supports an extension of the $662,000 federal grant Redding Municipal Airport got in 2008.
The money must be used to enhance airline service but needs to be spent by Dec. 31 or Redding loses it.
But with Delta’s letter of support, Dinger believes the Department of Transportation will grant Redding at least a one-year extension.
When Redding got the grant three years ago, the focus was getting Delta to start service to Salt Lake City. The economy put the brakes on any Delta expansion.
But with Horizon no longer here, Dinger says the numbers look more attractive to Delta.
“It’s no surprise that Delta sees stronger projected revenue returns,” Dinger said.
So Delta has basically told the DoT in its letter that it’s not ready to start service in Redding, but it would like to explore the possibility more in 2012.
“DoT has inferred to us verbally that (Delta’s endorsement) was going to be enough for us to get it (grant a deadline extension) done,” Dinger said.
Dinger hopes to get the “official” word from Department of Transportation officials in December.
After Horizon’s departure, Redding has one airline: SkyWest, the United Express contract carrier that offers five daily flights to San Francisco.
So with Redding Municipal Airport down to one carrier, are businesses rushing Frank Strazzarino at the Greater Redding Chamber of Commerce, demanding that the advocacy mobilize and do something about it?
Strazzarino told me last week that not one member has complained to him since Horizon pulled out. Horizon flew to Seattle and Los Angeles.
The multi-million-dollar terminal expansion of Redding Municipal Airport could start soon.
Airports Manager Dinger expects the city to sign a contract in December with Danco Builders Northwest of Humboldt County, which had a low bid of $6.8 million to do the work.
Most of the money for the expansion, or about $5.4 million, will come from Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program funds.
The expansion will add 10,000 square feet, increasing the terminal to about 30,000 square feet.
Plans include growing the passenger holding area, where travelers wait to board after they’re screened. It would be pushed out 50 feet east toward the tarmac, bringing the capacity from about 70 to some 200 passengers.
The baggage claim area also would move to the south side of the terminal. The area also will double in size.
Since September 2008, Redding has gotten $7.7 million in federal funds for airport improvements.
“We hope to have a contract in place in December,” Dinger said. “Whether we start any demolition, that could come later.”
Construction is expected to take two years.