Sonoma County Airport flights ‘hit and miss’ during fires

Passengers board their Alaska Airlines flight bound for Los Angeles, at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, in Santa Rosa, on Friday, August 21, 2015. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)


Flights in and out of Santa Rosa’s Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport are currently hit and miss, mostly due to limited airline staff.

The airport has technically been open since the start of Sonoma’s firestorm Sunday morning, but the terminal was closed Monday morning through Tuesday night due to loss of power, said Jon Stout, airport manager.

Air Traffic Control also initially restricted flights due to smoke and Cal Fire flights.

Alaska Airlines has been running at least one flight per day, however United Airline’s last flight was Wednesday, and American Airlines’ flights are still canceled as of Friday. Sun Country, which flies on Thursdays and Sundays, did fly yesterday.

The biggest issue for resuming flights is not enough airline staff and crew, Stout said. Many local employees have lost their homes or have been evacuated, and there are no available hotel rooms to put up airline crews. Hotels are full with evacuees and those who have lost their homes.

The airport is operating fluidly, Stout said, and airport staff is safe and no one has lost their home.

Those concerned about their flight should contact the airline it was booked through.

Elsewhere, the Petaluma Municipal Airport is being utilized as a base for helicopters involved in firefighting efforts, as reported in the Argu-Courier on Friday. Between 12 to 20 helicopters are expected to use the east side of the airport as an attack base beginning Friday.

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