California Pacific Airlines

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California Pacific Airlines
CP Air logo.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
FoundedApril 1, 2009
Commenced operationsNovember 1, 2018
Ceased operationsJanuary 17, 2019
Operating basesMcClellan-Palomar Airport
Fleet size4
Destinations8 (suspended)
HeadquartersMcClellan-Palomar Airport
Carlsbad, California, U.S.
Key people

California Pacific Airlines (a.k.a. CP Air) [1] was an American regional airline that was headquartered on the grounds of McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, California.[2] On December 28, 2018, CP Air announced it was suspending operations in California. In January 2019 the airline ceased all operations.[3] After several failed attempts at restructuring, the airline's air operating certificate was terminated in October 2020.[4]


Foundation and operations[edit]

The airline was founded in 2009 by Ted Vallas, a San Diego County businessperson from the North County area. Vallas had previously operated Air Resorts Airlines and wanted to create a San Diego County-based airline.[5] He picked Palomar Airport as a hub, since it had moderate demand but infrequent scheduled service. Vallas invested about $14 million in seed money, with plans to raise up to $32 million more from private investment.[6]

From 2009 to 2017, the airline struggled to achieve certification from the FAA as well as attempts to secure a fleet and routes. By February 6, 2012, California Pacific had passed Phase I of the FAA's formal Part 121 certification process, but their progress slowed due to a lack of available aircraft to lease or buy.[7] A breakthrough eventually came at the end of 2017, when the airline acquired ADI Aerodynamics, a small Essential Air Service (EAS) carrier. This purchase gave them full FAA certification, a fleet of four Embraer ERJ 145s, and a nearly-expired EAS contract between Denver International Airport and Pierre and Watertown, South Dakota.[8]

During 2018, the company renewed their EAS contract, gained permission from San Diego County to operate commercial services, and scheduled their first routes.[9] The airline formally began its first commercial service in November 2018, with nonstop flights between McCllelan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, California, and several destinations in the southwestern United States.[10] However, there were numerous cancellations in November and December, giving the airline a bad reputation among passengers. The airline blamed the cancellations on a pilot shortage.[11] The airline also gained a bad reputation for numerous cancellations and delays due to mechanical issues.[12]

Closure and attempted restart[edit]

In December 2018, California Pacific Airlines announced that it was temporarily suspending its West Coast flight operations. The carrier's EAS operations were not affected.[13] In January 2019, the EAS operations were shut down as well, leaving South Dakota cities Pierre (the capital) and Watertown without any commercial air service.[14][15] Eventually, these routes were ceded to SkyWest Airlines operating for United Express, definitively ending the former ADI routes. Employees were all put on indefinite furlough January 18; anonymous employees said that they were not paid for the last half of December or for January, and that their health insurance premiums had not been paid for three months.[16]

On February 28, 2019, Vallas stated that he had secured private investment to restart the airline in some capacity, and that operations could resume "within 90-120 days," with plans to abandon EAS flying altogether and take on additional second-hand ERJs to help mitigate the risk of mechanical issues which plagued the airline during its initial operation.[17] On May 9, talks began to sell a majority stake in the airline to Paragon Partners, an investment firm led by former Virgin America executive Robert Nisi.[18][19] On January 3, 2020, the airline filed paperwork to formally restart service, with flights to be operated using an all-Embraer fleet.[20] The exact date operations would start under the new certificate has still been undetermined. As of June 2020, a Federal District Court in Oregon ruled after trial that Vallas failed to pay ADI's former owner for the airline.[21] In October 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued an order permanently revoking the airline's air operating certificate.[4]


California Pacific Airlines 2018 livery on the Embraer ERJ 145
Commercial Destinations (Suspended)
City State IATA ICAO Airport
Phoenix Arizona AZA KIWA Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport
Carlsbad California CLD KCRQ McClellan–Palomar Airport (hub)
San Jose California SJC KSJC San Jose International Airport
Las Vegas Nevada LAS KLAS McCarran International Airport
Reno Nevada RNO KRNO Reno–Tahoe International Airport
Essential Air Service Destinations (Terminated)
City State IATA ICAO Airport
Denver Colorado DEN KDEN Denver International Airport (hub)
Pierre South Dakota PIR KPIR Pierre Regional Airport
Watertown South Dakota ATY KATY Watertown Regional Airport


Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
Embraer ERJ-135 0 1 30 Delivery was expected by Q3 2019
Embraer ERJ-145 4 2 50 4 inherited from ADI
Embraer ERJ-170 1 0 72 Subleased from 2012-2013, didn't fly commercially

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Carlsbad Palomar Airport to be the home of California Pacific Airlines." Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved on May 15, 2010.
  2. ^ "Contact Archived 2011-09-25 at the Wayback Machine." California Pacific Airlines. Retrieved on May 15, 2010. "California Pacific Airlines 2198-E Palomar Airport Rd Carlsbad, CA 92011 "
  3. ^ Concepcion, Mariel (February 4, 2019). "California Pacific Airlines Ceases Operations". San Diego Business Journal. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Federal Register" (PDF).
  5. ^ "New airline gets ready to take off from Carlsbad." KFMB-TV. April 1, 2010. Updated on April 28, 2010. Retrieved on May 15, 2010.
  6. ^ "California Pacific Airlines Plans Take Wing By Early 2012". June 6, 2011. Archived from the original on June 12, 2011. Retrieved June 12, 2011.
  7. ^ "[1]." North County Times. February 6, 2012.
  8. ^ "Okay, California Pacific Airlines ready again". San Diego Reader. November 18, 2017. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  9. ^, Stephen Lee. "Feds "re-select" ADI for second 2-year contract". Capital Journal. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  10. ^ Airlines, California Pacific. "California Pacific Airlines Announces Its Inaugural Schedule And Fares".
  11. ^ Molnar, Phillip. "California Pacific Airlines temporarily halts West Coast operations". Retrieved 2018-12-29.
  12. ^ "California Pacific Airlines - CLOSED - Carlsbad, CA". Yelp. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  13. ^ Nick Wenzel (December 31, 2018). "California Pacific Airlines temporarily suspends flight operations". International Flight Network. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  14. ^ Wonnenberg, Casey (2019-01-18). "Airline Service Ends Abruptly To Pierre and Watertown". KELO. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  15. ^ "California Pacific Airlines ends service in Pierre, Watertown". KSFY. January 21, 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  16. ^ "California Pacific Airlines takes a nose dive". Escondido Grapevine. February 1, 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  17. ^ "California Pacific Airlines retains investment firm, plans return to skies – The Coast News Group". Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  18. ^ "California's CPAir close to relaunch, Robert Nisi to be CEO". ch-aviation. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  19. ^ staff (2019-05-06). "California Pacific Airlines in negotiations for new ownership". The Coast News Group. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  20. ^ Miller, Seth (6 January 2020). "California Pacific plans to fly again". Proton Associates. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  21. ^ Judge, MARCO A. HERNÁNDEZ, District. "ADI ACQUISITION CO., LLC | No. 3:18-cv-01871-HZ. | 20200619762 |". Leagle. Retrieved 2020-08-18.

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