A Beechcraft 1900 lifted off of Merced’s municipal runway Monday morning, ending the city’s three-month stint without commercial passenger service.
It wasn’t the most glorious start. The first plane that departed was empty. The first flight into Merced had two of the 19 seats filled. The afternoon arrival, an hour overdue, had one passenger.
But what’s most important to the city isn’t the number of passengers at this point. It’s that passenger planes are coming and going twice a day ready to connect travelers to larger flights across the country.
“We expect the first week to be slow,” Merced Municipal Airport Superintendent Ron Elliott explained. “They just don’t sell tickets unless they’re up and running.”
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As promised, Great Lakes Airlines began daily flights from Merced to Ontario in San Bernardino County, the latest in a string of airlines that have served the city.