CARLSBAD–By late this year or early 2011, California Pacific Airlines will be transporting business and leisure travelers non-stop from Palomar Airport to five western cities, and in the near future, to resort destinations in Mexico.
Not since the once-popular Pacific Southwest Airlines, which ceased regional operations in the mid-1980s, has a San Diego County-based airline provided non-stop service to important destinations in California and Arizona. The initial schedule is proposed to serve Sacramento, San Jose, Oakland, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. Within a short time after operations begin, California Pacific Airlines’ routes will be extended to weekend flights to Cabo San Lucas.
The new California Pacific Airlines is the long-held dream of North County entrepreneur, Ted Vallas, who began his business career in the 1950s. In 1958, he bought the venerable El Camino Country Club in Oceanside, expanding the popular golf course into the first major facility of its type in North County. El Camino Country Club was the site of the first West Coast PGA tournament. Later, Vallas bought and expanded the Whispering Palms Golf Resort (now Morgan Run) in Rancho Santa Fe, several desert golf resorts in Imperial and Riverside County, and later developed golf resorts in Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Holland, France, England, and Ireland. In 1984, he built the Olympic Resort & Spa adjacent to Palomar Airport.
In 1980, Vallas received air carrier permits and approvals from the FAA to operate a scheduled airline from Carlsbad to a number of cities in California, Arizona and Mexico.
The Olympic Resort was designed to service Vallas’ Air Resorts, a scheduled and charter airline, which operated out of San Diego’s Lindbergh Field for 17 years.
“As much as I love golf and the golfing business, my real love is aviation,” said Vallas, who is president and CEO of the new airline. “I’ve long dreamed of building a scheduled airline to serve the West from Carlsbad to cities throughout the Southwest.
“Essentially, California Pacific Airlines is not a new idea or plan – it’s an unfulfilled vision I’ve had for the past 30 years and an idea definitely needed by the large and growing North County business community and population.”
The 89-year-old entrepreneur does not have the word “retirement” in his vocabulary. He was a World War II Navy flight crewmember aboard aircraft carriers flying SBD Dauntless dive bombers and TBF torpedo aircraft. He’s had flying in his veins since and over the years he’s held both fixed wing and helicopter private and commercial pilot’s licenses.
In late 2009, Vallas was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the American Business Defense & Advisory Council in Washington, D.C., and in February, the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce honored him with its “Lifetime Business Achievement” Award.
California Pacific Airlines will begin with five pure-jet aircraft, Brazilian-built Embraer 170s. The Embraer is a 70-passenger, twin-engine, which will be the quietest jet aircraft (Stage 4) to fly out of Palomar Airport. “We will be acquiring three new twin-jet Embraer 170’s and to get us on an earlier start, we are acquiring two nearly-new Embraer 170’s,” Vallas said.
This aircraft has a 1,550-mile range, and the planned CPA passenger configuration will have 6 First Class, 20 Business Class, and 44 Economy seats. With a 2×2 configuration, the aircraft will have no middle seats and more leg room.