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Alaska Airlines to start new flights between Santa Rosa and Orange County

Alaska Airlines announced plans Tuesday to start daily nonstop flights between Sonoma County and Orange County early next year, adding a fifth destination for commercial air travelers from the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.

Service between the Santa Rosa airport and John Wayne Airport in Orange County begins March 16. Flights depart Santa Rosa at 12:40 p.m. and arrive in Orange County at 2:11 p.m. From Orange County, flights depart at 12:15 p.m. and arrive in Santa Rosa at 1:46 p.m.

“It adds a new destination in the Los Angeles basin and gives more opportunities for passengers doing business and visiting family friends,” said Jon Stout, manager of the Sonoma County Airport.

According to survey data, Stout said, Orange County is 19th on the list of destinations for Sonoma County residents flying out of Northern California, including airports in Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. Orange County is just behind Seattle, which is 18th on the list.

“Orange County we expect to do very well,” said Stout.

Alaska Airlines began serving Sonoma County in 2007 and currently operates flights from Santa Rosa to Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and San Diego.

The Santa Rosa-Orange County link has been a highly requested route by airline customers looking for an alternative to flying from the Los Angeles area to Sonoma County, Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey said.

Lindsey also said that for Alaska’s Santa Rosa customers, Orange County’s John Wayne Airport is close to the beach cities of Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, as well as the inland areas of Irvine, Orange and the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim.

The new Santa Rosa route will be served by Horizon Air’s 76-seat Q400 aircraft, which it currently uses on all flights to Sonoma County.

Ken Fischang, president and CEO of Sonoma County Tourism, the county’s official marketing group, said the new route will complement existing air service to and from the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The local tourism group has a staffer in Orange County who markets Sonoma County as a conference destination, Fischang said.

“This will be a tremendous draw to help bring meetings and convention groups up to Sonoma County from Orange County,” Fischang said. “We are excited for the OC to be coming to the SC.”

To launch service to Orange County, Alaska is offering a special introductory one-way fare starting at $79, though customers must purchase tickets by Nov. 9 and travel by June 8, 2016.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @renofish.

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