United Announces Flights to Los Angeles through Humboldt County

Jan 8, 2018

Passengers at the California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport (ACV) board a flight in McKinleyville, where the airport is located.
Credit Natalya Estrada

The California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport (ACV) now offers direct flights to Los Angeles, a major hub for many traveling in and out of the North Coast. 

ACV previously struggled with losing Pen-Air—an Alaska based airline, last summer in 2017 and has since been operating with only one airline through United Airlines.

According a press release from Fly Humboldt and the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission (RREDC). United announced a new nonstop service from Humboldt County to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) which will officially begin in June 2018. 

Though United is the only airline flying in and out of the airport, flights to Los Angeles are a priority for a lot of communities in Humboldt County such as the medical, business, university students, and even the film industry. Emily Jacobs, program coordinator at the Humboldt County Aviation Division said in a previous interview with KHSU, that the airport has a large amount of people connected to the Los Angeles area.

"That could be divided up between LAX, Burbank, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Ontario, Long Beach. But historically when we’ve had direct service to LAX, we’ve had 45,000 to 55,000 people a year,” Jacobs said. "A large percentage of the student body comes from the Los Angeles area. That, but also the hospitals. The sisters of Orange, in relation to St. Joseph Hospitals, they had headquarters there. We also have a lot of traffic from the film industry here.”

Jacobs continued to say that smaller industries in Humboldt County, including local manufacturers, often use Los Angeles as a common trades spot. In the press release by Fly Humboldt, she also noted the importance of having a direct flight to Southern California. 

“Market research has shown that demand for this service from our community is strong. Our previous service to LAX was very popular with tourists and businesspeople," Jacobs said. 

While two legacy airlines and one leisure airline would be ideal for the airport, Jacobs said she and Gregg Foster, executive director of RREDC, work together to recruit more airlines to the area. Foster said recruitment can be difficult, especially since the area is not a huge urban hub. But now with more flights going to Southern California, that may change.

“We’re not the smallest airport in the United States. There are some very small commercial airports. But we’re certainly small enough that it’s hard for the big airlines to really notice that we exist,” Foster said and also added that in order for the airport to thrive it takes a careful balance. Airlines need to stay comfortable and know that they can actually make a profit in the smaller market.

And profit is something the county desperately needs. Humboldt County Public Works Director Tom Mattson said the airport provides economic growth and income within the region.

“It is very critical to our business community and to our economy. It’s a five and half hour drive to San Francisco and you know thirty minutes to our airport. And that makes up for a lot of time and a lot of lost income with people driving instead of being able to fly and do their work while they’re flying,” Mattson said.

United Airlines is the only carrier that flies out of Humboldt County, but with more options from United it could be a matter of time before another airline joins ACV. 

A previous version of this story misidentified  the"Redwood Region Economic Development Commission" as the "Redwood Region Economic Division."