SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara Airport is wooing major airlines. A recent study by airport officials shows how the Santa Barbara community is underserved when it comes to flight availability.
On average, 180,000 planes fly in and out of the Santa Barbara Airport each year, but not enough passengers are taking advantage of their local airport.
"We have an underserved community. For as many people flying out, we have that many more people that are living in our community that could use the airport," said Hazel Johns, Santa Barbara Airport director.
Santa Barbara is losing many of its potential passengers to larger airports like Los Angeles International Airport. Prices are an important factor. Passengers can save up to $200 if they drive to Los Angeles and fly to the Bay Area, rather than fly from our local airport. One key reason is airline companies don't realize how popular Santa Barbara is.
"So what we do is gather information and one of the ways we do that is called the leakage analysis. It shows where people are flying, not only their destinations, but which airports they're using. We're tracking that in North County and in South County all the way to Ventura," said Johns.
However, not every passenger is complaining.
"Heading back to Chicago and I just hate the hassle instead of driving all the way out to LAX so this is a better option for us. Time difference is about the same, but it's a lot less hassle and my wife can just drop me off here so it works well," said Phil Franklin, Montecito resident.
With a new business plan, the airport administration hopes to add to its 7 non-stop destinations by bringing in more and bigger flights.