Luring business to Fresno-Yosemite International Airport

FRESNO, California

The Fresno City Council approved an incentives program on Thursday to lure airlines to offer flights to new destinations from Fresno-Yosemite International Airport.

Travelers flying out of FYI could soon be seeing more direct flights to new cities on the departing screen. "Usually you have to connect from someplace else," said Lois Holmes, a traveler flying out of FYI. Officials with FYI and the city of Fresno are hoping to change that. On Thursday morning, the city council approved an incentive program to attract airlines to schedule non-stop flights from FYI to cities not currently being served.

"Our role is to get airlines in here, do the best we can to make it convenient and cheap for them to fly here and hope that the populous in the area will use the service," said Russ Widmar, director of aviation.

The plan brings the airport into compliance with the new federal guidelines on domestic incentive programs while leveling the playing field with competing airports. The program waives the landing fees for each incoming flight for at least one year and takes care of $20,000 in marketing fees. The incentives seem to already be working. Just last week, Alaska Airlines announced it will be adding two-daily non-stop flights to and from San Diego. The service will begin this summer and will be operated by Horizon Air.

"Frankly, we wouldn't have gotten this far with Horizon on the San Diego service if we hadn't had discussions about this particular incentive package as compared to the one that we had," said Widmar. Officials hope this triggers more airlines to offer non-stop flights to new destinations.

Travelers say they are hopeful they will have access to more direct flights to get them where they need to go much quicker. "I think it's great for people that live in Fresno and around here. It saves us some travel time," said traveler, Jonathan Serins.

FYI officials say they have a long list of airlines that they're talking with to urge them to schedule flights but would not reveal what cities they're expressing interest in.

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