2013: The commercial airline that plans to fly out of Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar Airport is seeing another big delay.
The Federal Aviation Administration has informed California Pacific Airlines that it will not be able to review its latest application to fly until at least next year.
The delay is so lengthy that California Pacific has furloughed all employees and suspended operations until it hears back from the federal agency, Chief Executive John Selvaggio said Tuesday, adding that he has returned to his Florida home. It’s the latest setback for California Pacific, first proposed in 2010 by owner Ted Vallas of Rancho Santa Fe.
The airline plans to provide commercial service to such regional destinations as San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Phoenix and eventually Cabo San Lucas. A 72-seat Embraer regional jet landed to fanfare in summer 2012 but has been idled during a series of disputes with the federal agency.
The airline has seen its application rejected, and then consideration of its reapplication delayed due to sequestration, the $1.2 trillion of across-the-board federal budget cuts over 10 years that began in March. The FAA eventually denied that application, before the airline resubmitted it for a third time in September.
Last week, the FAA sent a letter to Selvaggio, informing him of the latest holdup.
“The recent government shutdown, along with personnel changes and other resource losses within FAA Flight Standards has unfortunately resulted in further delay of the California Pacific Airlines air carrier certification,” says the letter from Keith Ballenger, assistant division manager for the FAA’s Western Pacific region. “The FAA will review our staffing situation in early 2014 to determine whether we can resume the California Pacific Airlines certification project. We will certainly inform you immediately if we can start certification work for CP Air any sooner.”
Airline management had repeatedly expressed confidence that California Pacific would begin service by the end of 2013.
The Embraer jet was ultimately sent back to the manufacturer, so the airline didn’t have to continue paying $200,000 per month in rent. California Pacific had raised at least $11 million from investors.