United Way Express starting two daily flights in August

BY DENNIS WYATT

United Airlines is launching two daily United Express flights through its partnership with SkyWest to and from Stockton Metro Airport beginning Aug. 22.

The service was announced Dec. 19 at a news conference in the lobby of the Stockton Metro Airport. The last time Stockton had direct service to a major hub was in 2003 when America West provided service to Phoenix.

Airport Director Russell Stark noted the service will eliminate the need for business and leisure travelers to battle traffic and congestion to fly out of San Francisco International to take advantage of the widest number of possible fight connections.

The new service is expected to help reduce traffic congestion over the Altamont Pass corridor and Bay Area freeways in order for Northern San Joaquin Valley air travelers to catch flights in San Francisco, Oakland, or San Jose. It also will help take pressure off the Interstate 5 corridor used to access Sacramento International Airport.

“When we think of a commute, we think of the Altamont Pass,” noted San Joaquin County Supervisor Chuck Winn of Ripon. “Going north-south in California is a commute for a lot of firms now locating in our area.”

Winn noted even agricultural endeavors will benefit from the United Express. As an example, many winery owners in his sprawling district that includes 80 wineries in the Lodi area often log 150,000 miles a year in business travel.

The United service is also expected to further strengthen the appeal of firms locating in the region. Ironically it was an attempt by local officials to rebrand Stockton Metro as Stockton-San Francisco Airport in a bid to market Stockton as a fifth airport option in the Northern California Megaregion that is closely identified with San Francisco that generated help in securing United Way Express service, noted Tom Patti who represents Manteca north of Yosemite Avenue and Lathrop on the Board of Supervisors.

While San Francisco International Airport moved to kill the name change that was the target of jokes in Bay Area media to avoid confusing travelers, key SF Airport personnel stepped up to assist San Joaquin County in securing regular service. They did do in a bid to reduce congestion in terms of flights at SF International.

“Several high-tech firms now call San Joaquin Valley home,” Patti said. “These employers and their employees will benefit greatly from air service to one of United Airlines’ hubs, giving them global access right out of Stockton.”

Currently on an annual basis, nearly 5.5 million passengers within a 25-mile radius of Stockton Metro travel over an hour when there is no congestion to reach airports in the Bay Area or Sacramento.

Manteca-Lathrop arguably is almost as well situated as Stockton is to take advantage of the county operated airport. It is an eight mile drive from downtown Manteca to Stockton Metro via Airport Way and a five mile drive from downtown Stockton via Airport Way.

Parking is also easier and going through TSA security is significantly faster. TSA will be adding another screening line when United service starts.

You can now book round trip flights after Aug. 20 on the United site at united.com, using the United mobile app, or calling United Reservations at 800.864.8331. The cost of a roundtrip flight is $185.

The seven-day-a-week flights will depart Stockton at 7:41 a.m. and arrive at LAX at 9:10 a.m. as well as at 3 p.m. and arrive at LAX at 4:20 p.m.

Flights from Los Angeles to Stockton depart at 1 p.m. and arrive at 2:22 p.m. as well as departing at 5:10 p.m. and arriving at 6:32 p.m.

SkyWest will be using the 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200 feature a center aisle with two seats on each side.

Allegiant Airlines that specializes in tourist travel already has flights out of Stockton to Phoenix, Las Vegas and San Diego.

The airport also has a number of Amazon Air Prime cargo flights each day.