Local airports battle for international flights

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JetBlue has been a big reason for the falloff; its traffic was 6.2 percent lower at Long Beach over the first five months.

The San Bernardino airport – converted from Norton Air Force Base, which closed in 1994 – finished construction of a $15 million terminal in March. It has been actively recruiting its first commercial carrier, which Executive Director A.J. Wilson hopes to land by early next year.

The airport’s facility was built under the auspices of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and can handle flights out of the country.

”We’ve had discussions with a number of airlines about the availability of this facility,” Wilson said.

“Many of them are considering growth to Mexico.”

Palm Springs International Airport has evaluated adding international flights to Mexico, but has stayed with its bread-and-butter business of taking winter “snowbird” flights from Canada for passengers wanting to get away from the cold.

“We have looked at offering flights to Mexico, but we come back to whether it’s a sustaining business,” said Thomas Nolan, the airport’s executive director.

Regardless of whether the competition bolsters the area’s airports, travelers should gain from the increased options.

Last Tuesday, Chris and Katrina Morshead breathed a sigh of relief as they were about to board a plane to Cabo San Lucas out of John Wayne.

The couple and their two children drove 31/2 hours from their Central California home in Lemoore earlier in the week to briefly stay overnight with a relative in Santa Clarita.

Then they continued their journey down I-405 to the Orange County airport at 6 a.m. to avoid traffic jams and make a noon departure.

The couple didn’t give a thought to flying out of Fresno Yosemite International Airport, a stone’s throw from Lemoore, because they wanted a direct flight to the Mexico resort city on the California Baja Sur peninsula, not a layover.

A few months earlier, they picked up four tickets on travel website Orbitz for $1,200.

“I always like direct flights. It’s a lot better than laying over at (Los Angeles International Airport), Phoenix or Mexico City,” Chris Morshead said.

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