Meadows Field refueling

A jet is refueled at Meadows Field in this Californian file photo.

Californian file

Kern County Airports Director Richard Strickland got a promise of $100,000 in help for Meadows Field from the Kern County Board of Supervisors Tuesday afternoon.

They agreed in theory to match a $600,000 federal grant — if Strickland can land it — with $100,000 in county rainy day funds.

The payoff?

If Meadows Field can win the grant, Strickland would turn the $700,000 in local and federal money, and an estimated $80,000 chipped in from the Kern County business community, into a big carrot to dangle in front of an airline.

If the carrot is big enough, Strickland hopes an airline will agree to create a connection between Meadows Field and either Dallas-Fort Worth or the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

The Texas connection is one that comes and goes at Meadows Field as the economy shifts.

It’s a critical link, especially for Kern County’s oil and gas industry.

“There’s an obvious connection between the oil community here and what’s going on in Texas,” Strickland said.

Right now there are a lot of ifs in the plan.

Financial support from the board of supervisors, Strickland said, makes it easier to eliminate one of the big hurdles.

“Only about 10 airports get a grant,” he said.

But he thinks Meadows Field has a really good shot.

American Airlines has included a letter of support in the grant package, which will be sent off in the next 20 days.

And now the supervisors are on board.

Winning this grant and landing a connection to Texas may be a critical step for Kern County’s main commercial airport.

The county has invested heavily in the field, building a new $33 million terminal in 2006 and supporting repaving of the airport's runways.

The expected rebound of service at the airport never materialized and international flights to Guadalajara were eliminated not long after they began when the Great Recession hit in 2008.

Strickland told supervisors earlier this year that the airport hasn’t been able to break even and relies on the Kern County general fund to subsidize operations.

More investment by the county is critical, he said then, to turning Meadows Field into a thriving hub.

Currently Meadows Field only offers flights to Phoenix, San Francisco and Denver.

Supervisor David Couch on Tuesday lauded the effort to build a connection between Bakersfield and Texas.

He said bringing another airline connection would be a boon to people in the community, especially people in the oil industry.

James Burger can be reached at 661‑395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @KernQuirks.

(4) comments

Inconvenient Truth

I really want to fly out of Meadows. The convenience of flying from a local airport means a lot to me, but the ticket prices are OUTRAGIOUS. Here is a current quote of roundtrip airfares to major destinations for travel this weekend from both Meadows (BFL) and Los Angeles International (LAX):
San Francisco BFL: $800.40 LAX: $206.40
Dallas BFL: $1,202.70 LAX: $227.40
Denver BFL: $995.60 LAX: $262.40
Chicago BFL: $1,140.10 LAX: $350.00
Honolulu BFL: $1,321.70 LAX: $544.40
Atlanta BFL: $1,355.60 LAX: $620.40
New York BFL: $1,179.60 LAX: $786.60

Also, each of the above flights from Meadows has at least 1 Stopover, but every LAX flight is Nonstop.
Now, I admit I hate flying from LAX and am willing to pay a premium for the convenience of flying from Meadows, but the AVERAGE difference in ticket price above is $714!!! That’s $2,856 for a Family of Four!
How can United and American justify charging 2.66 TIMES MORE for flights from Meadows?

gkozy1

I understand your concerns but we have always had ridiculous prices to connect from Bakersfield, even after pumping hundreds of millions dollars of County and Federal money into the airport. While I was in the service in the early 70's we got a break but others were paying a ridiculous price. My family has taken a number of flights to North Dakota over the years. In addition to the high cost. With holdovers it took as long to fly as it took to drive if you shared driving with another person, about 23 Hours.
Airlines have us over a barrel. They are happy with mail and freight out of Bakersfield and they have no problem filling seats in L.A.
Paying and airline for what I can almost guaranty will be a costly and slow service doesn't make sense to me. What we need is competition and that will not come from other airlines
Lets get the high speed rail going. make the airlines compete.
There is very little opportunity to make air flight a green industry.
But with renewable electricity. The electric high speed train will provide green transportation.

gkozy1

I find it hard to believe that there isn't a connection from Texas to Phoenix already . So combined with the Bakersfield to Phoenix flight you have a connection to Texas already. Why do you have to give any airline any money? Remember we are short on money.

GaryJohns

Southwest Airlines. We're tired of American and United price gouging...

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