CARLSBAD, Calif. (KGTV) - California Pacific Airlines has canceled all of its January flights in and out of Carlsbad’s Palomar-McClellan Airport.
The announcement came after the small airline had already canceled flights from December 21 through the end of the year.
CPA launched in November with direct flights to Reno, Las Vegas, San Jose and Pheonix. It had been almost a decade in the making for founder Ted Vallas, who finally opened CPA after taking over a small airline with a fleet of four aging jets.
But by December, the problems began.
Two of the planes were taken out for repairs, creating several days of canceled flights.
Operations resumed for about a week, but a few days before Christmas the cancellations began again causing passengers to scramble to find alternate routes.
On Yelp, one reviewer wrote “They canceled my flight last night, and rebooked me to this morning. Then they canceled my flight this morning... on Christmas Eve!! Had to ditch this airline completely and booked a last minute Southwest flight.”
Founder Ted Vallas told 10News that all canceled flights will be refunded.
He said maintenance issues were still a lingering problem, but they ran into another issue as the holidays approached - a lack of pilots.
Vallas said they recently let two of their pilots go. That coincided with two other crews leaving for higher paying seasonal jobs at major airlines.
Without enough planes or pilots for all of their scheduled flights, they decided to cancel them across the board at Palomar-McClellan.
Vallas told 10News, “Being a scheduled airline and dedicated to this community the North County, it would be better to notify people in advance that we have this pilot problem.”
He said they are currently training more pilots and in the process of leasing new planes, but those won’t be available until at least February. Vallas says another one of their planes will be heading in for maintenance during their 30-day shutdown.
Palomar-McClellan airport has had a history of failed airline ventures. The most recent was Cal Jet, which folded after less than a year of operations.
But big changes are coming. Back in October, the county Board of Supervisors approved a plan to extend the runway, which could help make a business model for an airline more viable.
For now, CPA continues to operate out of several other airports. Vallas vows to resume operations out of Carlsbad as soon as possible, but has not yet set a hard date.