Airlines and pizza pies

New airport manager talks passenger service; MOD Pizza opens in North Valley Plaza

Nine years ago, I flew out of the Chico Municipal Airport, en route to the Philippines, via San Francisco. While the flight was a bit pricey, the convenience was totally worth it.

The coolest thing, though, about flying out of Chico was the ambiance. The terminal was small and people were friendly. Instead of disappearing into video games, we talked. I struck up a conversation with a Chico State professor who was on his way to Indonesia to help preserve native dialects disrupted—and possibly doomed—by the 2004 tsunami. It fascinated me. I even ended up calling him when we were both back stateside and wrote a story about his efforts.

While I enjoyed my experience flying on that tiny plane out of little Chico, I never again splurged for a flight from our local airport. So, when passenger service left Chico, I wasn’t all that surprised.

That was then; this is now. If we can find an airline that will fly not only to the Bay Area but also to L.A. and Portland, that would be a coup for Chico and could certainly help attract new businesses. I recently sat down with the newly hired airport manager, Sherry Miller, who was obviously very busy and also quite optimistic about the future.

Miller, who recently moved to Chico from South Lake Tahoe, says she’s enjoying her new environs. While Tahoe was beautiful, it was very seasonal, she said. She pointed out her window to where crews were working on a $3.7 million ramp reconstruction. They started in early September and were already halfway through. That project was mostly funded by the Federal Aviation Administration.

This month, Miller will be attending an air service conference in Kentucky, where she’s already set up meetings to discuss future commercial flights with Delta, American and SkyWest, the latter of which abandoned service between Chico and San Francisco in 2014.

What I found to be particularly cool about the activity at the airport is Jet Chico, a group of locals who are passionate about restoring passenger service at Chico’s airport. The group includes a former airline pilot, a former SkyWest employee, an architect and other aviation aficionados. It’s been quite active, going so far as to sketch out plans for a new passenger terminal. The group has also been a big help to Miller, she says. Isn’t it just like Chico to be so welcoming?

Mod out A few weeks ago I wrote about MOD Pizza moving into the North Valley Plaza. Well, they’re open! The company, founded by Scott and Ally Svenson—who also founded Seattle Coffee Co.—has shops all over the United States and is known for being good to its employees. I’m especially excited about the build-your-own pie idea. My current craving: chicken, artichoke hearts, black olives, a white garlic sauce and, of course, cheese.