For Solana Beach resident, Sheila Olinger, the convenience of flying out of an airport that is smaller, closer to home and has $5 all-day parking made taking the first-ever California Pacific Airlines flight Nov. 2 from Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar Airport a no-brainer.
CALIFORNIA PACIFIC AIRLINES
Founder: Ted Vallas
Number of employees: Nearly 100
Company description: A privately owned commercial service domestic airline that flies to San Jose, Las Vegas, Reno-Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona, and uses a fleet of four 50-seat regional jets made by Embraer.
“I have a 20-month-old,” said Olinger, a 36-year-old mother who was traveling to San Jose to take the California Certified Paralegal examination. Her plan was to fly out that morning and return the same day — just in time to kiss her son good night — without having to worry about traffic or exhausting security checks, expensive parking and the potential of delayed flights while being 30-45 minutes away from home.
“This was much closer to home (than San Diego International Airport),” said the Canadian native. “It was also a quick process.”
Convenience was part of California Pacific’s strategy when founder Ted Vallas took on the task of launching a new airline. The businessman and Encinitas resident worked for a decade to get the company off the ground, after facing numerous delays at both the federal and local government levels.
Today marks “the culmination of a multi-year effort that will bring significant convenience in air travel between San Diego’s North County and the top western-region destinations our community wants to fly to nonstop,” Vallas said via a news release, referring to the airlines’ debut. “Our initial set of cities will address the needs of both business and leisure travelers from nearby McClellan-Palomar Airport. Passengers can spend less time fretting the drive to and from the airport, and spend more time enjoying their destination.”
Vallas worked in North County real estate development and ran a small airline out of McClellan-Palomar Airport in the 1980s.
Launching a privately-held commercial service airline is uncommon; Cal Jet Elite Air was founded in 2015 and based out of Palomar, but it abruptly ended its service in April. While California Pacific Airlines isn’t the first privately owned commercial service domestic airline to launch in the last few decades, it is currently the only privately held commercial service airline out of Carlsbad, says Ryan DiVita, director of sales and marketing for the company.