The number of passengers flying from Carlsbad to Albuquerque and Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) on Boutique Air increased in 2021, after the company reported significant decline in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Earlier this year, the City of Carlsbad renewed an EAS agreement with Boutique Air. The agreement expires in 2023.
Boutique Air is based in San Francisco, California.
Per City records, flights departing Carlsbad to Albuquerque and DFW transported under 500 people between July 2020 and October of 2020.
In 2020, however, more than 1,000 passengers boarded planes in Carlsbad between March and May.
The number of passengers remained steady between July and August of this year with 943 passengers taking flight from Carlsbad in July alone.
More than 800 people flew from Carlsbad to Albuquerque and DFW in August, and 949 flew in September, City of Carlsbad records indicated.
Brian Kondrad, vice president of business operations for Boutique Air, said COVID-19 impacted air travel in Carlsbad.
“We are grateful that the EAS program exists and we were financially supported by the government to keep flights in and out of Carlsbad. Many airlines took reductions in flight frequencies but we remained committed to our obligations to serve Carlsbad,” he said.
John Waters, executive director of the Carlsbad Department of Development (CDOD), said as in-person meetings were replaced with digital gatherings, air travel between the cities declined.
“I do know that even in the offices that would dispatch people to Carlsbad for business meetings, those meetings occurred remotely as did meetings across the country in industry. We have all experienced the changes in the travel patterns, especially over the last 21 months dealing with this pandemic,” he said.
Kondrad said relaxed regulations and additional safety measures set for travelers created the perfect situation for recovery at the Carlsbad Air Terminal.
Boutique Air requires passengers to use face coverings at the check-in counter, gate area, on-board and while getting on and off any airplane.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend any passengers be fully vaccinated and travel only when necessary, while also advocating for the use of face coverings and social distancing as much as possible. It also recommends testing before and after travel.
Most air travel providers, including airlines, have individual requirements and recommendations for their passengers.
Waters said air travel from Carlsbad is not only convenient but a supporting component of the region’s economy.
“When you have to get somebody somewhere for a quick meeting and back its nice not having to go through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security, because that adds some additional time onto your trip,” he said.
“It is critical to have some flights in and out of the community, because a lot of businesses need those to come in (to Carlsbad). Not everybody has their own private jet to fly into Carlsbad,” Waters said.
Kondrad said Boutique Air’s commitment to Carlsbad and Eddy County was evidenced by increased flights to DFW.
“We not only take pride in our service in the community but also being a part in the growth. We receive a lot of positive feedback from our schedules and our Boutique Car operation where passengers can easily rent one of our vehicles from the terminal and complete their leisure or business in the area,” he said.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.