Lake Tahoe Airport
|Lake Tahoe Airport|
|IATA: TVL – ICAO: KTVL – FAA LID: TVL|
|Operator||The City of South Lake Tahoe|
|Location||South Lake Tahoe, California|
|Elevation AMSL||6,269 ft / 1,911 m|
Lake Tahoe Airport (IATA: TVL, ICAO: KTVL, FAA LID: TVL) is a public airport three miles southwest of South Lake Tahoe, in El Dorado County, California. This general aviation airport covers 348 acres (141 ha) and has one runway. The airport is sometimes called Tahoe Valley Airport.
This high elevation airport in the Sierra Nevada Mountains just south of Lake Tahoe opened in 1959 with a 5900-ft runway. Starting in 1963 it had few airline flights: the first were Paradise Airlines Lockheed L-049 Constellations. Paradise ceased operations after a fatal accident in the mountains near Lake Tahoe and Pacific Air Lines arrived in 1964 with Fairchild F-27 turboprops. That summer, Lake Tahoe was on a "milk run" route flown with the F-27 by the airline: Pacific flight 771 operated a routing of Reno-Lake Tahoe-Sacramento-San Francisco-San Jose-Fresno-Bakersfield-Los Angeles-San Diego. In 1966 Pacific started operating the first jet service into Lake Tahoe with Boeing 727-100s flying a Los Angeles (LAX)-San Jose-Lake Tahoe round trip schedule. A 1966 Pacific Air Lines route map also depicted nonstop 727 service to San Francisco (SFO) and Reno from the airport. This 727 service lasted less than a year, and Tahoe did not see scheduled jet flights again until 1983. Following cessation of the Pacific 727 service, a ban on passenger airline jet operations at the airport was initiated. Pacific Air Lines resumed Fairchild F-27 service and successors Air West and Hughes Airwest also operated Fairchild F-27 turboprop flights until the early 1970s. For a number of years, air carriers initiating new flights had to use turboprop powered aircraft for their respective services into Lake Tahoe due to the jet ban with the Lockheed L-188 Electra propjet initially being flown by several airlines into the airport followed by other turboprop aircraft types operated by other air carriers.
Holiday Airlines served Lake Tahoe with Lockheed Electras in the 1960s and early 1970s, followed by Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) and Air California (later AirCal) Electras starting in 1975. Sierra Pacific Airlines, a commuter air carrier, was also serving the airport during the mid 1960s with flights to San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Monterey. PSA dropped Lake Tahoe in 1979, as did Air California a few months later. The replacements were Aspen Airways and Cal Sierra Airlines both flying Convair 580s, and Golden Gate Airlines and Golden West Airlines both with STOL capable de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7s. Pacific Coast Airlines (formerly Apollo Airways) served the airport with Handley Page Jetstreams while Gulf Air Transport gambling charters used Electras. Other turboprop operators were Royal American Airways with the Vickers Viscount, Sierra Expressway with the British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31 and Alpha Air operating as Trans World Express on behalf of TWA with the Beechcraft 1900C.
The ban on airline jets then ended, and jet service resumed in 1983 with AirCal operating McDonnell Douglas MD-80s and later Boeing 737-300s. AirCal flew nonstop to Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose, CA and direct to Burbank and Orange County. In 1987 a daily AirCal 737-300 flight was scheduled direct to Chicago O'Hare Airport via San Francisco and Orange County. American Airlines acquired AirCal in 1987 and continued to serve Lake Tahoe with the former AirCal 737-300s but soon switched to regional partner American Eagle with Saab 340 and Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner turboprops into the 1990s. American was the only major U.S. airline ever to serve Lake Tahoe. At one point Reno Air flew McDonnell Douglas MD-80s nonstop to Los Angeles; other jets included British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Elevens operating nonscheduled casino charters.
In 1999 Casino Express Airlines operating as Tahoe Air started low fare Boeing 737-200 jet service nonstop to San Jose and Los Angeles (LAX). Allegiant Air flew McDonnell Douglas DC-9 nonstops to Burbank, Fresno, Las Vegas and Long Beach in 1999-2000; however, the airport apparently could not support jet service by this time. Tahoe Air experienced financial difficulties and ceased all operations later in 1999 while Allegiant discontinued all service in 2000 and subsequently evolved into a low fare air carrier that is still currently in business. Lake Tahoe has not had scheduled passenger flights since, and the area is now served by Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) and Sacramento International Airport (SMF).
Former airline service
Airlines in bold served Lake Tahoe with mainline jet aircraft. All of the following destinations were served nonstop or direct with no change of plane:
- Air California / AirCal: Burbank, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Orange County, San Francisco, San Jose
- Air Pacific (United States): Stockton, San Francisco
- Air Sierra: Fresno, Mammoth Lakes
- Allegiant Air: Burbank, Fresno, Las Vegas, Long Beach
- Alpha Air (TWA Express code share with Beechcraft 1900Cs): Los Angeles, Mammoth Lakes, Orange County, Palm Springs, San Francisco
- American Airlines: San Francisco, San Jose
- American Eagle (Wings West Airlines): Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose
- Aspen Airways: Burbank, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose
- Cal Sierra Airlines: San Diego
- Golden Gate Airlines: Reno, San Francisco
- Golden West Airlines: Los Angeles, Ontario, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco
- Great Sierra Airlines: Fresno, Oakland, Reno, San Jose, Truckee
- Hawthorne Nevada Airlines: Hawthorne, NV
- Holiday Airlines: Burbank, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose
- Pacific Air Lines / Air West / Hughes Airwest: Los Angeles, Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and other California cities
- Pacific Coast Airlines: San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Barbara
- Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA): Burbank, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Ontario, San Diego, San Francisco
- Paradise Airlines: Oakland, San Jose
- Reno Air: Los Angeles
- Royal American Airways: Las Vegas, Oakland
- Sierra Expressway: Oakland
- Sierra Pacific Airlines: Monterey, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose (this mid 1960s commuter air carrier is not to be confused with Sierra Pacific Airlines which was a separate airline that operated in California in the 1970s)
- Tahoe Air: Los Angeles, San Jose
- Yosemite Airlines: Columbia, CA, Monterey, San Francisco
- http://www.departedflights.com, 1966 Pacific Air Lines ad, "Pacific Air Lines jets to more California cities than any other airline."
- http://www.timetableimages.com, Aug. 6, 1966 Sierra Pacific Airlines timetable
- "Royal American Airways system timetable". November 1982.
- http://www.departedflights.com, April 2, 1995 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Los Angeles-Lake Tahoe flight schedules
- http://www.timetableimages.com, 1999-2000 Allegiant Air flight schedules
- Lake Tahoe Airport (its web site)
- FAA Airport Master Record for TVL ( PDF)
- Departed Flights (old airline timetables)
- (PDF), effective July 21, 2016
- Resources for this airport:
- Airport information for KTVL at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.