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Lab responds in airline service discussion

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By The Staff

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Los Alamos airport manager Peter Soderquist said the biggest obstacle to success for New Mexico Airlines, which offers roundtrip trip flights from Los Alamos to Albuquerque,  is a lack of lab participation.

According to Soderquist, LANL’s travel and expense management system accounts for only 19 percent of bookings, even though LANL enplaned over 20,000 passengers in Albuquerque in 2010. 

Thursday morning, lab officials responded.

According to lab spokesman Steve Sandoval, New Mexico Airlines does not have a preferred (airline) carrier discount/status with LANL because New Mexico Airlines is the only carrier that currently provides a Los Alamos to Albuquerque service. 

“If other air service providers offered a Los Alamos to Albuquerque service and laboratory personnel could use that service it is conceivable that New Mexico Airlines would receive preferred status because they would be competing with another air service provider,” Sandoval said. 

“That’s an important point in this discussion. Right now, New Mexico Airlines is the sole Los Alamos to Albuquerque provider; they have no competition per se, hence no reason, in the laboratory’s view, to provide them preferred carrier status.”

Additionally, Sandoval said LANL has done extensive internal communications to its workforce about New Mexico Airlines.

“We published several news stories in our employee publications; we issued an all-employee memo; our travel office folks and the Community Programs Office folks held a couple of informational meetings in March about New Mexico Airlines,” Sandoval said.

“Peter Soderquist of the LA Airport and representatives of New Mexico Airlines were available at these informational meetings to answer questions from employees about the new air service. We also modified our reservation system to allow online booking of flights using New Mexico Airlines.”

Soderquist appealed to county council for $365,248 in economic development funds to further subsidize the fledgling service through August 2014. And the vote passed 6-1 with council Vice Chair David Izraelevitz casting the lone dissenting vote.