Our Views: Travelers to Fiji, India help save Modesto’s airport

03/07/2014 6:15 PM

03/07/2014 6:41 PM

Perhaps the folks at Modesto’s Sham Field would be wise to start greeting prospective passengers with the words Sat Sri Akaal or Namaste. Those are typical greetings used by people in Fiji and India, and without a pledge to send thousands of passengers bound for those destinations through the Modesto Airport, it is unlikely the Destination LAX campaign would have been a success.

The city announced Friday the campaign had surpassed its goal of $1 million in pledged airfares for travelers flying from Modesto to L.A. and then to who-knows-where. According to the campaign, it means a major carrier will be likely to establish service from Los Angeles to Modesto.

Mayor Garrad Marsh said that two travel agents – invited by Councilman John Gunderson – attended the Wednesday event, then later pledged to book $500,000 in fares between them on flights from Modesto to Los Angeles. From there, the vast majority will board planes for either India or Fiji. Having service to Los Angeles from Modesto, said Marsh, will cut out one stop on their journeys.

“They said they were doing 150 flights a week,” Marsh said. “And they ended up pledging about a third of that. Essentially, that made up half the total.”

The mayor says he’s not done yet. In fact, he might dig a little deeper into his own pocket. The mayor pledged to buy $1,000 worth of flights, but then realized his daughters both fly into Northern California when visiting. Adding their visits, said Marsh, meant he could pledge more.

Acquiring more flights is “vital,” Marsh said, because without them, Modesto could lose its Federal Aviation Administration funding.

While we’re entirely happy for the campaign’s success, we asked what makes this different from past campaigns when Modesto was in danger of losing its air connections.

“We’re doing 10,000 flights (per year), and that’s only 7 percent of (local air) travelers; 93 percent don’t,” said Marsh. “It wouldn’t take very much of that to really make L.A. a truly successful service.”


It will be interesting to see how many people from Modesto drive to San Francisco on Wednesday to have input on where our new $225 million courthouse should be built. The Court Facilities Advisory Committee meets at 455 Golden Gate Ave., at 10 a.m. The city of Modesto is pushing for a 10th Street site while opponents feel the courthouse would be better facing I Street, where the Arch, the Gallo Center and the new district attorney’s offices are located. It’s interesting that some of the most active proponents of the alternative location are attorneys – who, presumably, are the people who will most frequently use the building. That also means those defending the city’s location should have their acts together in presenting their case.


What’s on the Google barge? Better question: What’s it doing in Stockton? Google has been secretive about whatever is being done on that 200-foot barge that, until Thursday, was sitting in San Francisco Bay. Officials there ordered the barge out because it didn’t have proper permits. The barge appears to be filled with shipping containers. And while that’s not much to look at, our neighbors to the north seem downright giddy at having it docked at the inland port. While we might never know what’s onboard, at least now we won’t have to search hard to find it.


If we’re ever going to be able to confront the periodic droughts that afflict California, we’re going to have to store more water. So we’re happy that Assemblyman Adam Gray has decided to have local hearings to help voters sort out the competing water bonds. He made that commitment last week while talking to the Governor’s Drought Task Force at UC Merced. The only hearing scheduled so far is April 17 in Merced. We hope others can be arranged.

Speaking of Gray, as of Friday he was the only candidate to have submitted papers to either the Merced or Stanislaus county election offices to be a candidate in the 21st Assembly District. No other candidate, of either major party or any minor party, submitted and the filing period is closed.


The weekly Maddy Report will (as usual) be interesting this weekend (podcast at www.maddyinstitute.org or on KMJ radio Sunday at 10 a.m.). Sacramento Bee reporter Jon Ortiz and Christy Bouma of Capitol Connection will discuss pension reform.

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