Airport Regains Some Flights. Future Routes Uncertain.

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Starting Saturday, United Airlines will resume weekend flights between Santa Rosa and its San Francisco hub, part of a slow return of flights lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

United’s flight means travelers will be able to fly from Santa Rosa to SFO five days a week, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and both weekend days.  Months ago United canceled its popular Denver flight out of Sonoma County Airport, and airport managers don’t expect that service to return soon.

Still, as a trickle of leisure and business travelers once again take to the skies a few other flight options have returned.  American Airlines this week restarted daily service to and from Dallas/Ft. Worth, after earlier bumping its Phoenix flight back to daily frequency on July 1st.  And, the biggest carrier out of Sonoma County, Alaska Airlines is currently operating daily flights to and from Seattle, San Diego, Portland and Los Angeles.

Still, passenger volume remains a fraction of what it was before the onset of the pandemic, when the airport was setting new records each year.  In May the airport saw just under 4 thousand total travelers, which is about a tenth of the volume of the same period last year.

The airport has enacted social distancing protocols and enhanced sanitation and hygiene throughout the facility, and has masks available for travelers who don’t bring their own.  Most airlines now require masks to be worn on every flight.

Despite all of that, the airport is pushing forward with expansion plans with funds that were in the pipeline before the coronavirus emergency began.  In fact, lower passenger volume has allowed work to proceed ahed of schedule.  This summer a new and expanded tented structure with permanent restrooms should be finished in August, allowing the main terminal expansion project to begin in the fall.  That 30 million dollar build out will triple the size of the terminal, and could be complete in approximately two years from now, in the summer of 2022.

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