Frequent traveler Joyce Mikkelson is used to going wireless.
Mikkelson, a travel consultant and Butte College instructor, frequently connects to the Internet wirelessly at other airports but until now has been unable to do so in Chico.
With the recent addition of a wireless Internet connection at the Chico Municipal Airport, Mikkelson will now be able to connect in Chico, as well.
"People have to be there so early," Mikkelson said. "Instead of just sitting there, you can conduct business."
Wireless Internet connection has been available at the Chico Municipal Airport for about a week now as part of the city of Chico's continuous efforts of improving and promoting the airport. Assistant City Manager Dave Burkland, who also serves as the airport manager, said the city is trying to encourage residents to use the Chico airport.
"Really it's just another way we want to make our airport more attractive," Burkland said.
Burkland said the city wants to expand the service at the airport because it sees the potential to expand airport use. He said many air travelers now have an expectation that the airport they fly out of has a wireless connection.
A market research report done on the Chico Municipal Airport found while the airport's market area is 335,000 passengers annually, only 34,900 from the area use the Chico airport. The other 90 percent drive to other airports, such as Sacramento or San Francisco.
"We want people to use the airport, and we want to show the airports it is viable," Information Systems Director Lynn McEnespy said.
McEnespy said in the city's attempt to expand airport service, adding a wireless connection was the easy part. She said the connection at the airport has been working smoothly during its first week running.
"And it's free, that's the best part," McEnespy said.
Jim Goodwin, CEO of the Chico Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has been supportive of improvements at the airport.
"I think anything our community does to invest in and improve the quality of the Chico Municipal Airport is good for business and good for Chico," Goodwin said.
Goodwin said Chico's ability for business travelers to connect directly to its airport is very important. He said the more Chico does to improve the quality of its airport, the better.
Mikkelson calls the new wireless Internet capability at the airport "a plus for Chico" and said it's a business boon to have that capability in Chico.
The city is also attempting to add a Chico to Los Angeles flight. Burkland said he also envisions the ability to buy coffee and snacks.
To access the airport's wireless connection, travelers need a laptop with a wireless card. McEnespy said most laptops automatically pick up a signal and travelers only have to click on "Chico Municipal Airport" in their wireless choices.
The airport will have signs posted telling travelers about the wireless connection, but Burkland said it may take people a little bit longer to catch on. But Burkland said some travelers may have already stumbled upon that news themselves because they're like his own kids -- "always fishing for a signal."
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