Tahoe Takes Off

| July 1, 2011 | 0 Comments

Folks who want to fly directly to Lake Tahoe now need not own a private jet. Lake Tahoe Air, which launched July 1, is a new charter air service based out of Las Vegas, with connections to South Lake Tahoe, San Jose and Orange County.

“The biggest convenience is not having to drive from Reno,” says Lake Tahoe Air founder Mike Zeid, who operates the company’s two nine-seat turbo-prop planes on a charter license from the FAA. If there is demand, Zeid hopes to obtain commuter certification and expand to larger aircraft; that, however, is dependent upon the Lake Tahoe Airport upgrading its facilities to FAA commuter standards.

South Lake Tahoe has previously offered commercial air service via operators such as Allegiant Air and Golden West Airlines, but sustained success has proven to be a challenge. “Airlines came and went, but none of them stayed,” says Zeid, who headed up the 1970s-era Ram Air, which served Tahoe, but shuttered operations by the end of that decade.

Tahoe businesses also stand to gain from commercial flights, with the potential of increased visitor traffic. “Air service locally is a very convenient portal for visitors and residents to South Lake Tahoe.” says Carol Chaplin, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

Zeid and Chaplin remain optimistic about long-term local air service, and several Stateline casinos have already expressed support for the new carrier. “This is just the right time for an airline,” says Zeid, underscoring the fact that a decade has passed since Tahoe has seen commercial flights. Chaplin adds, “The successful operator will be patient and grow the business as awareness and demand grows.” By Dave Zook. TQ


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