Summer Air Service between Mammoth and Los Angeles is set to begin Monday, April 12th.
With winter service shutting down Sunday, and the single flight per day summer service starting Monday, the Mammoth Town Council signed off on a contract to help pay for air service subsidies at their meeting Wednesday night, though not without debate.
To make sure that Horizon Air makes money on the summer service, the Town of Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area plan to split the estimated $650,000 minimum revenue guarantee to the airline. This number may be higher or lower depending on how many people buy tickets.
The debate boiled down to the nature of an agreement that puts the town on the hook for the money with no way to bail out if the summer flights are a failure. Town staff estimated that if no one took the flights the revenue guarantee to horizon would cost $857,000 rather than the $325,000 that staff considers a conservative estimate. The assumption is that Horizon would shut down the flights if the flights were empty so the Town wouldnt have to pay the full $857,000.
The problem for council members Skip Harvey and Jo Bacon was that there was nothing in writing that guarantees Horizon will shut the flights down leaving the town with the potential to owe the full $857,000 amount.
Mammoth Mountain had already negotiated the contract with Horizon Air, the issue for the council was to sign the agreement to split the potential cost, whatever it may end up being, with the Ski Area.
Council member John Eastman was ready to move forward, and explained that the Town had already made the commitment to pay the share of the subsidy. Wendy Sugimura also felt that it was highly unlikely, that air service would cost the entire $857,000. In the end, the council voted 4-1 to approve the contract with Mammoth Mountain to pay for half of the air service revenue guarantee.
Council member Jo Bacon was the lone dissenter.
In the meantime, the ski season at Mammoth Mountain has been officially extended to July 4th, so the service isnt just for the summer recreation like biking, hiking, and fishing. For the visitors and locals who have taken the flights, the details are similar- a 70 minute flight that leaves LA in the late afternoon before heading back in the early evening. The daily flight between the Mammoth Yosemite Airport and LAX is set to run into September and again in mid November into mid December when winter air service resumes.