Volaris Airlines is looking to fill a valley void

FRESNO, California

Fresno-Yosemite International hasn't been living up to its name lately. But once Mexicana Airlines filed for bankruptcy, Volaris Airlines offered to step in. The Mexico-based carrier now awaits final federal approval to begin flights to Guadalajara.

Russ Widmar said, "The latest I've heard from them is March 17th."

Aviation Director Russ Widmar expects Volaris to announce its official start date in early March. Volaris will fly Airbus A319 planes similar to those used by Mexicana.

"There'll be a few more seats because they don't have a first-class section." Widmar said. "This is like the Southwest Airlines of Mexico, one of them."

Congressman Jeff Denham of Atwater is on the transportation and infrastructure committee. Denham will focus on aviation issues so he's glad to see Volaris fill a glaring need.

"This airport is a huge part of our local economy." Denham said. "Throughout the entire valley this is the hub and so we need to make sure we have flights that are coming in and out and plenty of availability to get us everywhere in the world."

Widmar says the decision to keep FYI's federal inspection station open even without international arrivals was key. "If we had had to close it I'm convinced we would have never re-opened it and we would have never had Mexican flights here again."

Widmar expects Volaris to begin with four weekly flights before expanding to six flights a week to Guadalajara.

At this point, flights between Fresno and Guadalajara are the only routes Volaris has applied for. The company will open in time for the summer peak season.

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