US regional airline Contour Airlines (LF, Tupelo) will continue to serve Oakland from Crescent City after the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority (BCRAA) turned down its proposal to change to Sacramento Int'l to take better advantage of its new interline agreement with American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth), local media reports.

The Californian joint powers authority reached its decision after hearing from Contour Airlines Chief Executive Officer Matt Chaifetz, who said the Tennessee-based carrier was not pushing for a change, reports Wild Rivers Outpost.

It also follows a special BCRAA board meeting on February 18, 2021, during which the matter was discussed. According to the agenda notes, Contour Airlines did not advocate either hub and was neutral on whether one should be chosen over the other. The airline had merely presented Sacramento as an alternative option given its interline agreement with American Airlines (AA).

The board discussed that AA currently does not serve Oakland and that there is no ability for Contour's passengers leaving Del Norte County Regional airport to connect to an AA flight, or AA partnering airlines. However, AA does serve Sacramento, therefore single ticket travel from De Norte would be possible to any airport to which AA offers flights from Sacramento. According to the AA website, it offers non-stop service to Los Angeles Int'l, Phoenix Sky Harbor, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O'Hare, Charlotte Int'l, and San José Cabo. According to research conducted by Contour Airlines, it expected to achieve up to 78% load factors on the Sacramento route by leveraging its AA partnership, as opposed to 70% achieved to Oakland in 2019.

The agenda notes state a community poll indicated a strong desire (62%) for connectivity to a major carrier, but also a higher preference for Oakland (25.5%) over Sacramento (22.8%).

Aside from the availability of an AA service at Sacramento, both airports had similar profiles in terms of other carrier options available, access to terminal facilities, and passenger traffic. According to their websites, airlines serving Sacramento include Aeroméxico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American, Boutique Air, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Horizon Air, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, and Volaris. Airlines available at Oakland include Alaskan, Allegiant Air, Azores Airlines, Contour, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, Southwest, Spirit, and Volaris

Contour Airlines has offered flights between Crescent City and Oakland through a subsidy from the US Department of Transportation’s Alternate Essential Air Service (AEAS) programme since April 2018. On September 4, 2020, the DOT granted an application by the BCRAA to have the service extended. According to the regulatory notice, the DOT at the time approved a USD14.6 million grant over a 48-month period to the BCRAA on behalf of Crescent City for a public charter service from Del Norte to Oakland “or an alternate large or medium hub designated by the community”, using 30-seat E135s.