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Alaska Airlines marks 1 million passengers at Sonoma County airport

Alaska Airlines and Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport on Tuesday celebrated serving 1 million paying passengers since operations began here five years ago.

Alaska calculated the milestone was reached Tuesday with a flight that arrived at 11:50 a.m. from San Diego. To commemorate the day, the airline randomly selected one passenger, frequent Alaska flier Ann O'Neill of San Diego, to be its one millionth passenger to the airport.

"I was delighted," O'Neill said upon hearing her name announced on the plane once it landed Tuesday.

A nurse, O'Neill makes regular trips to Santa Rosa as part of her work for a company that owns and operates outpatient surgery centers.

Along with gifts from wineries and tourism businesses, O'Neill received two free round-trip tickets to anywhere Alaska flies. She said she'll let her husband pick the destination for that trip.

The flight's other passengers each received a gift bag presented by about 30 airport volunteers and tourism boosters, who greeted the flight with colored balloons and welcome signs.

Alaska spokesman Bill Essick told the crowd the airline is pleased the county's support for its passenger service.

"This is just a gem of an airport for us," Essick said.

The airport had been without passenger service for nearly six years when Horizon Air, Alaska's sister carrier, began flights here in March 2007. The flights now connect Santa Rosa with Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego.


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