Airline Pulling out of Merced

Air Midwest; airline that links Visalia and Merced to Las Vegas wants to quit the route despite growing passenger counts

Cifuentez said he believes Visalia will draw interest from other airlines in a new selection process. "We actually don't think this is a reflection on the viability of the Visalia market, but rather a market decision by Air Midwest to vacate most, if not all, of its Essential Air Service markets," he said.

Cifuentez said his optimism is based on a conversation with Dennis DeVaney, the federal chief of the Essential Air Service program. "Dennis told me (Mesa Air Group) notified six other EAS communities in the last month that they were pulling out of their markets," Cifuentez said Monday. "They're getting out of the 19-seat airplane business ... to concentrate on their regional-jet business."

Another Mesa Air Group subsidiary, Mesa Airlines, flies regional jets in service to Fresno and Bakersfield.

Reporter Tim Sheehan can be reached at 559-622-2410 or

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