How often does a company completely shut down to grow? Cal Jet, the sole commercial operator at Carlsbad Airport north of San Diego halted operations this week with virtually zero notice. In a letter to customers the company says the move is necessary for securing its growth.
Our business plan has been based on a five-city strategy out of Palomar Airport and the additional aircraft and crews needed to accomplish this goal are nearly complete and is operationally where we need to be to operate at our desired performance levels.
To prepare for multiple aircraft operation with crews dedicated to Cal Jet, the Carlsbad to Las Vegas service will be suspended as of April 18, 2018, as the new schedule and times are finalized. Once we have added the additional aircraft and crew, we will restart Las Vegas and add Oakland, and Phoenix by the end of June, followed by San Jose, Cabo and Sacramento in late July. The expanded schedule and times will be finalized soon and will be available for sale at that time.
To say that this approach is highly suspicious is a massive understatement. It is also not the first time the company cancelled flights on short notice because of aircraft availability. Some flights were unexpectedly dropped earlier in the year, with blame focused on charter operations for Elite Airways, the aircraft owner. During the March Madness season its fleet is heavily used for college basketball team charters.
Elite Airways does have additional CRJ700s available that could be dedicated to the Cal Jet operation. It seems unlikely, however, that this is really what is happening. It is also possible that additional crew could be based at Carlsbad to serve additional routes less than daily with the single aircraft. Making either adjustment does not require halting operations. Indeed, this reminds me of a restaurant that will close temporarily for remodeling, never to be heard from again.
Maybe Cal Jet will surprise us all and return to operations. But if it does it will have a hard time convincing travelers that it is a reliable operation. The Vegas flights were not particularly reliable and the stop-and-go operations certainly do not endear passengers to the company. How many are willing to risk a vacation or business meeting with an airline that just might decide to close up shop tomorrow, having demonstrated previously a willingness to do just that?
A full copy of the letter to customers as shared on the company Facebook page is below.
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