You might be able to catch a flight to Hawaii out of Stockton Metro Airport starting in mid-2012.
It is one of several scenarios Allegiant Airlines is working with the airport on to expand service out of Stockton. Another includes providing the first direct connection from Stockton Metro to a hub airport - Denver.
The possible additional destinations that could be wedded with current flights to Las Vegas and Palm Springs reflects the growing use of Stockton Metro not just by Northern San Joaquin Valley residents but also Bay Area and Sacramento area residents as well, according to Stockton Airport Commission member Jack Snyder.
The former Manteca mayor with 26 years of council service under his belt has served for the past two years as the city’s representative on the county airport commission.
The airline is pondering an Atlanta to Hawaii flight that would have to refuel before departing the West Coast. Stockton is a strong candidate given the congestion at the three major Bay Area airports - San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose - as well as Sacramento International. The flights could start as early as May once Allegiant jets and flight crews are certified for flying over the Pacific Ocean.
It isn’t by chance that Stockton Metro is high on Allegiant’s radar for expansion.
Passenger tracking is showing a growing number of Bay Area and Sacramento area residents are using Stockton Metro to reach Las Vegas and Palm Springs as a matter of convenience and saving time. Allegiant - which is aimed at connecting with popular tourist destinations - is always examining new routes.
During dedication ceremonies of the new waiting room beyond the security check-in, Snyder asked passengers waiting for the next flight to board where they were from and what brought them to Stockton.
The first was a gentleman from Elk Grove headed for Palm Springs. His reasons had to do with the easier drive and the ease of parking.
Another passenger was a woman from Los Gatos.
“She said by the time she drives to a Bay Area airport, gets parking, (and gets checked in and past security) she saves time by driving to Stockton,” Snyder said.
Snyder noted that the woman and her husband are fairly frequent flyers to Palm Springs.
He noted that having service to a hub such as Denver would open up East Coast travel for passengers out of Stockton.
Snyder sees Stockton as a more hassle-free alternative as airports in the Bay Area and Sacramento keep getting more congested.
If Stockton Metro can lure air freight service back it would provide the county with another draw to lure potential employers.
Snyder said that most don’t realize what a “diamond in the rough” that Manteca has being within eight miles of the airport.
The airport - when coupled with two major rail intermodal yards for train-to-truck container transfers, three major freeways criss-crossing California, and the Port of Stockton nearby - provides a strong selling point for business to locate in the region.
The completion of an urban interchange at Arch Road and Highway 99 to allow maximum volume of traffic movements with minimum delays several years ago was part of a long-range strategy to improve the lure of Stockton Airport and surrounding business park land. Now the county is moving forward with the Sperry Road interchange on Interstate 5 that would connect with Arch Road. That would give quick access to both the airport and business parks from California’s two premier north-south freeways.
Short-range goals the airport commission is working with the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors to possibly accomplish are:
•Installing automated parking system to replace the honor system of which perhaps 50 percent pay the $5 parking fee. Snyder said the expectation is that such a system would pay for itself and generate funds for other airport improvements.
•Obtaining food service for the secured waiting area that has just been completed.
•Better signage on Highway 99 plus signage on Interstate 5 when Sperry Road opens.
Ultimately, the airport commission would like to see a new terminal as well.