JetBlue’s celebrated red-eye flight from Reno to New York City needs more marketing support if the flight is to continue.
That was the message presented last week by Reno-Tahoe International Airport President and CEO Marily Mora to the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority’s (RSCVA) Board of Directors.
It’s “use it or lose it,” Mora said.
The flight started in May of 2015.
“It’s wonderful for our community to have $69 airfares, but the airline can’t make money at that point,” she said. “We really need to have support from the community on an ongoing basis.
“(JetBlue is) doing well; they are where they need to be,” she added. “But one of the things that we have to keep in mind, and one of the conversations that we’re certainly having with RSCVA, is the marketing support for the New York flight really goes away in spring, so we all have to gear up to put more money back into that flight come summer.
“We really need have support from the community on an ongoing basis and more marketing support for this flight. We spent 15 years to get the Jet Blue service, and let’s not lose it.”
Another flight of concern is Alaska Airlines’ new flight to Boise, a flight that Mora described as “suffering a bit. We need more support for Boise if we want to keep this flight.”
RSCVA supports air service initiatives through the Regional Air Service Corporation (RASC), a public-private consortium to support the area’s air services.
“RSCVA has $100,000 in the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 budget for RASC, which supports airline service and marketing related to air service in the region,” said RSCVA spokesperson Ben McDonald.
Mora said that the airport lost about a third of its passenger and cargo traffic and is in the rebuilding process. Last year’s passenger and cargo numbers were a record-setting, showing ongoing growth.
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New flights coming to the airport:
- Orange County (Alaska Airlines), starting March 15
- Oakland, Calif. (Southwest Airlines), starting June 5.
The airport continues to have problems with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) over the time it takes to process passengers from Mexico. The airport is working directly with Nevada’s congressional delegation to try to get customs to process passengers faster.
The airport put $4 million into its customs building last year in order to service flights to Mexico. Mora said that CBP has been incredibly stubborn.
“Unfortunately the situation with our customs processing has not gotten better despite a whole lot of effort from airport staff … and certainly efforts from our congressional delegation,” Mora said. “The wait is two-and-a-half hours. We only have two officers and a port director.”
The airport has offered to CBP to pay for more staffing in order to expedite service. Mora said customs has no mechanism to accept the offer, something that could take a legislative change in order happen.
The airport is also concerned about how customs has been treating passengers.
“The disrespectful treatment of our passengers, regardless of their origination and nationality, must end immediately,” said Airport Authority Chairman Andy Wirth. “There must be change to the CBP in Reno.”