After a long journey, California Pacific Airlines (called CPAir by some) will finally launch service between Carlsbad, California and San Jose, California and Reno, Nevada starting on November, 1st, 2018. California Pacific Airlines was originally started in 2009 by Ted Vallas in Southern California. Almost a decade later, the airline is now officially on track to take flight at the end of this year. California Pacific Airlines’ journey to become an airline follows a route that many small airlines must take to become a Part 121 air carrier (full airline) in the United States. Their journey shows the significant value of Part 121 air carrier certification.
In its original attempts to become an airline, the company went through the “traditional” U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration procedures to become a Part 121 air carrier. Their attempts to become a certified airline were ultimately unsuccessful as the complicated and long certification process blocked them from taking flight.
In 2017, the firm bought Aerodynamics, Inc, commonly called ADI, which is a Part 121 air carrier that operates flights under the Essential Air Service (EAS) subsidy in the Midwest. ADI also operates charter flights for specific clients. Through the acquisition of ADI, California Pacific Airlines gained automatic certification as an airline.
Currently, Aerodynamics, Inc will be operating the flights and the company will soon be operating under the name of California Pacific Airlines (Doing Business As / DBA). It is also uncertain if the company will continue operating EAS flights under the Aerodynamics name or the California Pacific Airlines name. In addition, some places are reporting that California Pacific Airlines bought SkyValue Airways, which is actually ADI. ADI created SkyValue to bid on certain EAS routes. The SkyValue brand does not look to be in use by the company as of the date of this article.
Above California Pacific Airlines Embraer ERJ-145 photo by Ryan DiVita on Wikimedia Commons. Enhanced by FlyRadius. The above photo is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
The Fast Way to Certification
In this case, California Pacific Airlines was only able to gain certification by purchasing another DOT/FAA Part 121 certificate holder, Aerodynamics, Inc. This is the fastest route to gain certification in the United States. The long process of obtaining air carrier certification in the United States requires a significant investment in order to have the resources need to obtain certification. Even with adequate resources, the approval process is still difficult.
Air Carrier Certification is Valuable
An airline who holds Part 121 certification is, in fact, holding a valuable asset as they have authority to operate flights in the United States. All airlines should find ways to keep an operating certificate active as they can be transferred to others that intend to create a new airline. Some of the “big” airlines in the United States have purchased operating certificates from other airlines. One example is Northwest Airlines purchase of Independence Air’s certificate for $2 million dollars in 2006. Northwest used Independence Air’s operating certificate to create Compass Airlines, a regional airline that is now owned by the Trans States Airlines.
We would like to congratulate California Pacific Airlines on finally nearing the start of service. It is always great to see a new airline in the United States. CPAir will be able to provide an alternative air travel solution to those in the Carlsbad and San Diego area.
Starting a new airline is not an easy task. The certification process, capital requirements, and uncertainty all make the startup phase a significant endeavor. FlyRadius looks to help companies and individuals with airline formation by providing information and resources on the process in the future.