After two days of cancellations, North County’s California Pacific Airlines says it will be back in the air Wednesday.
Mechanical issues among its four-plane fleet grounded all flights on Monday and Tuesday. It has had numerous delays and cancellations in its first month of operation out of McClellan-Palomar Airport and other locations.
Ryan Divita, sales and marketing director for the airline, said minor maintenance issues and getting parts for planes canceled the flights. The airline declined to make public exactly what the mechanical issues were.
“Unfortunately, it’s been a perfect storm of all the aircraft having issues at the same time,” he said on Tuesday. “It was completely unrelated. The only thing in common was the bad timing.”
California Pacific uses Embraer ERJ-135 twin jet planes that are roughly 18 years old. The two planes it uses for routes in Carlsbad and South Dakota were grounded with the maintenance issues.
A third plane was undergoing repairs after it struck an excavator while taxiing Oct. 26 at Pierre Regional Airport. The fourth plane was undergoing scheduled maintenance.
Divita said its planes undergo general maintenance every 14 days and inspections every three days.
“The planes are operating out there are 18 to 19 years old. It’s not old, but things break on them,” he said. “Especially flying them with schedule we’ve been flying them. It’s a lot of wear and tear.”
Divita said safety is paramount for California Pacific and always errs on the side of caution.
Divita said it’s been offering vouchers to customers on a case-by-case basis to those whose flights have been canceled.
“It’s basically to say, ‘Hey, give us another shot’,” he said. “It’s certainly not easy, but we are doing what we can.”
Michael Belch, a marketing lecturer at San Diego State University, said it seemed to him like California Pacific might have started flying too soon and needs a timeout.
“It sounds more than a string of bad luck here,” he said. “It sounds like they weren’t ready to go in the first place.”
Belch said for the airline to succeed it needed to ground flights for a while to get things better prepared and then embark on an aggressive public relations campaign.
For now, he said the airline will have the problem of new customers searching the Internet for information about a new airline, and running into negative reviews on Facebook and Yelp. Both sites are filled with testimonials of customers about long delays or canceled flights.
Belch said the vague explanation of minor maintenance issues may deter many passengers, except maybe those most eager for a deal.
“If it is mechanical issues, I’m sure as heck not getting on that plane,” he said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it does not take action against airlines for cancellations.
“We’re closely monitoring the airline’s operation and how they are managing their maintenance program,” it said in a statement.
California Pacific was founded eight years ago by entrepreneur Ted Vallas, now 97 years old. It was delayed for years in back-and-forth disputes with San Diego County, the owners of the airport it planned to use, and other issues.
Its inaugural flight on the morning of Nov. 1 was canceled, despite a major media push, because of mechanical problems on the plane.
Since then, it has been operating flights to San Jose, Las Vegas, Reno and Phoenix. It also has flights between South Dakota and Colorado.
firstname.lastname@example.org (619) 293-1891 Twitter: @phillipmolnar
San Diego’s new single-family homes are pricey, modern and in short supply
Tijuana condo craze continues in to 2018
Last year’s housing market broke records