Horizon Airlines to offer a lift to Mammoth from LAX

 
LA Times | Travel
 

Southern California skiers and snowboarders worried about gas prices eating away the value of their season passes this winter will be able to fly directly from Los Angeles to Mammoth Mountain, Horizon Airlines is expected to announce today. FOR THE RECORD: Mammoth flights: An article in Mo...

By Tiffany Hsu // 07.14.08
 

Southern California skiers and snowboarders worried about gas prices eating away the value of their season passes this winter will be able to fly directly from Los Angeles to Mammoth Mountain, Horizon Airlines is expected to announce today.


FOR THE RECORD:

Mammoth flights: An article in Monday's Business section about flights offered by Horizon Airlines to Mammoth Yosemite Airport from Los Angeles International Airport included a comment by skier Judith Miller, who expressed concern that all passengers' skis and snowboards might not fit in the planes. The article should also have noted that Horizon says it can easily accommodate sporting equipment. —


The airline will offer daily nonstop flights -- the only ones available out of Southern California -- from Los Angeles International Airport to Mammoth Yosemite Airport from Dec. 18 until April 12, when demand is at its peak, Horizon spokeswoman Jen Boyer said.

Tickets go on sale today, with regular $99 one-way fares and select dates in January at $79.

Instead of a five-hour drive north from Los Angeles, Southland snow enthusiasts can soon reach the mountain in just over an hour, said Howard Pickett, chief marketing officer for Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.

The prices sound good, but the logistics at the airport are still unclear, said Judith Miller of Burbank, who is a past president of the Los Angeles Council of Ski Clubs. Miller has been skiing at Mammoth for 36 years and still drives up at least six times a year, she said.

The flight times are a little early in the day for people who have to work, and she worried that the planes might not be able to fit everyone's skis and snowboards. But it's the 15- minute drivefrom the Mammoth airport to the ski area that may keep her from buying a ticket -- if there ends up being no ground transportation.

Still, the prospect of driving to Mammoth could be even more daunting, she said, with projected fuel costs possibly making the trip prohibitively expensive.

"It's definitely appealing. With the flight, you don't have the hassle of having to deal with the traffic, you don't put the wear and tear on your car," Miller said. "As long as there's ground transportation there, I have a feeling a lot of people would do the flight."

About 85% of the more than 1.1 million people estimated to visit the mountain, the country's third-most-visited ski resort, every year are from Southern California. But many locals end up going to the Mountain High or Big Bear ski resorts, located in the relatively close San Gabriel Mountains.

Mammoth executives said they expected the new flights to boost tourism to the area by facilitating travel for Southern California residents as well as for passengers on the national and international airlines connected to LAX.

Resort executives have discussed the idea with several airlines, Pickett said, adding that United Express once flew the route before canceling flights in the mid-1990s.

Horizon has not decided whether it will continue to offer the service beyond April 12.

"We don't make plans that far ahead in today's economy, but when service is well received, we certainly plan to continue it," Boyer said.

The flights will leave LAX at 2:20 p.m. and land at 3:25 p.m., and will leave Mammoth Yosemite at 4:05 p.m. and land at 5:19 p.m., Boyer said. Horizon will dispatch its Bombardier Q400 planes, which have 74 to 76 seats and burn 30% less fuel than similar planes.