I have one question for , and I’ll borrow it from the “Wendy’s” hamburger commercials: “Where’s the beef?” For those of you who are unaware, CPA (flycpair.com) has been claiming for years now that it will offer non-stop flights from to Phoenix, Sacramento, San Jose, Oakland, Las Vegas and Cabo San Lucas as early as this spring. That is, if you can believe the minimal, vague information posted on their website. The proof is in the details, and details are sorely lacking from the new airline kid-on-the-block. Sure, the website lists names and bios of the Executive and Advisory teams as well as the Board of Directors, but little else. On Jan. 23, I phoned and emailed a few questions for Jim Buntz, who, according to the company’s website, is CPA’s Senior Vice-President of Business Development. Mind you, I had to obtain contact information for Mr. Buntz from Peter Drinkwater, Airports Director for the County of San Diego, due to the fact CPA’s website only lists as a source of contact and inquiries a mailing address! My questions were as follows:
1. Estimated time when flight operations will begin at Palomar?
2. Estimated cost of round-trip flights to destinations such as those listed on the website? For example, Sacramento, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Oakland/Bay Area?
3. When will CPA begin hiring for positions such as flight attendants, technical operations, pilots, customer service, etc?
4. What criteria are being employed to account for the following claims being made and detailed on your website under "Role In The Community":
‘Quality airline service is an economic engine for the communities they serve.
Within the first year of operation, CP Air will have an estimated $90 million annual contribution to the North County Economy. This figure may grow to over $200 million by our fifth year of operation.
In its first year, CP Air will employ over 150 people and more than 500 people by year five, creating many new jobs in North County. By our third phase of operations, we will have employees in 22 cities residing in 3 countries.’
I never received a response from Mr. Buntz. I followed up this week and still have yet to hear from him. On Tuesday, February 7, Fox 5 San Diego reported that CPA had passed the first phase of the FAA’s certification process, and that the airline may receive its first two aircraft “by spring, with the hopes of training staff.” The column quoted Palomar Assistant Airport Manager Olivier Brackett as stating, “The County has done air services studies. The airline has done air services studies, and gauged demand for flights out of this airport.” Demand for such a venture is extremely high said Brackett. “We get phone calls every day in our office with people in the community asking when CPA is going to start flying,” he said. Really? What studies is Mr. Brackett referencing? How much demand is there from the public? How many phone calls is Palomar Airport receiving on a daily basis? None of these questions are raised, let alone answered, in the article by Fox 5 San Diego reporter Perette Godwin. There was also nothing else of substance in Ms. Godwin’s article that would shed light on the aforementioned questions I posed to Mr. Buntz, so again, “where’s the beef?”
For all the fluff being created by the County of San Diego Airport Authority, the Palomar Airport Advisory Committee, and California Pacific Airlines, the facts portray that this is all nothing but an, ahem, flight of fantasy. Until the public can review tangible evidence that demand indeed exists for CPA’s offering, as well as the direct and indirect economic benefits being touted by them for the community, then these same entities, all of whom are proponents for a runway extension at Palomar, cannot possibly garner public support for spending millions of tax-payer dollars on such a project. And yes, I’d like fries with my beef!