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Disneyland bound? Aviation company proposes Napa Valley to Orange County air service

Disneyland bound? Aviation company proposes Napa Valley to Orange County air service

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Attention Disneyland fans (or Southern California travelers): would you like to fly from the Napa airport to the John Wayne airport in business class seats for around $200 round trip?

If one company gets its way, you just might be able to do that, at least temporarily.

A semi-private hop on jet service named JSX could be coming to Napa County Airport, said a news release.

The new service would also offer Napa residents “a long-awaited solution to the sometimes hours-long drives to commercial service airports,” such as Oakland and San Francisco, said the release.

J3 Jet, a respondent to the county’s request for proposal to bring a second Fixed Base Operation (FBO) to Napa County Airport, holds the keys to launching JSX service for the valley.

An FBO is a private aviation terminal for general aviation and business flyers which offers aircraft refueling, aircraft parking, charter and maintenance services.

In August of last year, the county released an request for proposals for a second FBO, providing airport users a choice of FBOs. The Napa Airport already has one FBO, Lynx.

A second operator has not been announced yet said Greg Baer, Napa County airport manager. The county Board of Supervisors could make a recommendation about which company is chosen in the coming months, he said.

“Our hope is to win the FBO,” said J3 Jet CEO Joe Daichendt.

While most FBOs tend to focus on only those services, J3 Jet brings a twist— regularly scheduled air service through JSX.

J3 Jet is comprised of JSX, Super Bowl winner and Sommelier Will Blackmon, plus aviation industry veterans Daichendt and Doug Wilson.

“Their novel approach includes JSX service in addition to the array of FBO services, they would offer, said the release.

“In the wake of COVID-19, while direct-to-consumer sales provides a stable income stream for wineries, the feeder business to that DTC model is tourism in the valley,” said Blackmon, a partner in J3 Jet.

“Since the pandemic, travel is significantly off and we hope to be part of the solution.”

The company JSX operates 24 or so of Embraer 135 jets, one of the quietest medium jets in existence, said the release.

While most airlines cram 50 seats such aircraft, JSX’s aircraft are configured to hold only 30 seats in an all business class configuration, the release said.

This 30-seat rule means JSX falls under a different regulation than traditional airlines, “so there is no need to show up hours in advance, or run the gauntlet typical to cramped airline terminals with thousands of passengers,” the release said.

Instead, JSX only uses private terminals at FBOs, which usually only cater to private airplanes.

“Napa County was not originally on our list of viable service markets for JSX,” said CEO and Founder of JSX Alex Wilcox.

“Though we would love to offer air service to a number of underserved communities, the decision for us must be pragmatic, and driven by the economics. If it were not for our longstanding relationship with the J3 Jet team, we would not be coming to Napa.”

JSX hopes to begin with weekly service to and from Orange County to J3 Jet’s proposed FBO at Napa County.

Additional flights from Orange County would increase in frequency, followed by cities such as Burbank and Seattle, said the release.

An Orange County resident, Blackmon noted the Orange County is the perfect initial city pair for Napa.

“Orange County is home to more than 116,000 millionaire households, the third highest concentration in the entire country. And right now, getting to Napa for them is painful.”

Initial flights would be in the $200 price range for a round trip between the John Wayne Airport in Orange County and Napa, if customers stay two nights at either destination. The regular round trip cost would be approximately $499.

Watch now: A CHP fly-along over the Bay Area

You can reach reporter Jennifer Huffman at 256-2218 or jhuffman@napanews.com

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.

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