The Startup Airline That Flew—Briefly

(Bloomberg) -- A startup airline that had hoped to capitalize on the growth of northern San Diego County has shuttered after flying for only about two months.

California Pacific Airlines, which launched flights on Nov. 1  last year from Carlsbad, California to San Jose, halted service in late December, citing a nationwide pilot shortage. The airline, which operated Embraer SA E145 aircraft, had planned to complete additional pilot training in January and resume service.

The carrier, which had nearly 90 employees, put all staff on furlough Jan. 18 “with no return to work date,” company spokesman Ryan DiVita said Thursday in an email. He referred further questions to the airline’s Carlsbad office, which did not return a call seeking comment.

“CPA regrets the pilot shortage has impacted its customers and appreciates their patience while working to minimize the length of downtime,” the company said in a Dec. 28 news release. The airline, which operated Embraer SA E145 aircraft, had planned to complete additional pilot training in January and resume service.

California Pacific acquired its fleet and operating certificate in May 2018 when the company purchased Aerodynamics Inc., which operated federally-subsidized Essential Air Service routes from Denver, Colorado to Pierre and Watertown, South Dakota. Those flights have also ended.

The Startup Airline That Flew—Briefly

Having commercial air service at Carlsbad, about 35 miles north of downtown San Diego, was a long-held dream of 97-year-old Ted Vallas, a serial entrepreneur from the area who made his fortune in golf course and resort projects around the world. Others thought that dream foolish.

“I have a better chance of dating a Hollywood celebrity than Cal-Pacific does of ever flying again,” Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst with Atmosphere Research Group, said in early January.

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