Alaska to discontinue La Paz Air Service in April 2013


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TBC
La Paz may soon find itself without direct flights to and from the United States.
Alaska Airlines has just announced that it is discontinuing Horizon Air’s service between Los Angeles and La Paz next April. Flights after April 6 were made unavailable for purchase in the reservations system.
“Unfortunately, the La Paz market has been very inconsistent for Air Group and is currently unprofitable,” says Ben Munson, director of network planning. “We’ve tried various service patterns and combinations of Alaska and Horizon flights to make the market work, but without success.”
Exacerbating the situation has been high competition and low fares on flights to nearby Los Cabos. Many travelers are choosing to visit Los Cabos over La Paz, or they’re flying into Los Cabos and then driving to La Paz. As a result, advance bookings for La Paz are weakening.
Air Group has served La Paz since October 2006, with flights from LAX initially operated on 737-400s. Horizon took over the route in September 2008, offering three weekly CRJ-700 roundtrips. That increased to five weekly flights in November 2008, but it was cut back to the current three the following November. Since August 2010, Horizon has served the market with Q400s.
Agustin Olachea, President of Emprhotur, La Paz’s hotel sssociation says that although the news from Air Alaska is upsetting, it is not shocking.  “Once Air Alaska went to smaller planes in 2010, things haven’t been the same.  They were smaller, louder, uncomfortable jets and people were not happy with the change. Alaska was also offering limited service with just 3 flights a week and their fares were often higher than those fares into San Jose.  With the new twin highway from La Paz to Los Cabos, it just became more affordable and convenient to fly into San Jose and drive the two hours to La Paz.”
Jonathan Roldan, owner of Tailhunter International in La Paz says the cancellation of Air Alaska to La Paz will have devastating consequences to the city. “This is terrible news for La Paz.  It is really a ripple effect economically.  I have brought down thousands of fishing adventurers from Southern California over the years and the two-hour direct flight from LA allowed them to enjoy a four-day weekend here in La Paz. They fished, stayed at hotels, dined at local restaurants and shopped for gifts for their families.  Losing that direct flight, I lose out on clients and other La Paz businesses will lose out as well. How can the capital city of Baja California Sur not have direct service to the US?”
Olachea said that Emprhotur will make sure that La Paz will continue with direct flights from the US. “Don’t doubt for a second that we will allow La Paz to have no flight service from the US.  Over the past 3 or 4 years, we have been in constant contact with various airlines, trying to get more flights to the capital and we hope soon to announce new flights to and from the US with another airline.  I just can’t do that today.”
Horizon’s service to La Paz will drop to just one weekly roundtrip (on Saturdays) after February 23rd for the duration of the service. The aircraft time that had been allotted to La Paz service will be shifted to Loreto in the winter months and Santa Rosa in the summer. Horizon flies five weekly flights between Los Angeles and Loreto (its only other Mexico destination).
Horizon has no employees based in La Paz. Local agents from Menzies handle all passenger service, ground service and operations duties for the flights.
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