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Three flights into Sonoma County Airport cancelled due to technicality

Three flights to Sonoma County this week have been cancelled, including one that was just about to land.
Three flights into Sonoma County Airport have been cancelled this week, including one that was just about to land.

Last year almost 17,000 commercial passenger jets flew in or out of the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport on Alaska Airlines flights.

But for the passengers that came in on the late flight from Los Angeles on Tuesday, there was a bit of uncertainty about their journey.

"Well it's not ideal for those who want to fly," one passenger said.

It's not ideal because passengers have no way of knowing if they will arrive on schedule due to a technicality with the Federal Aviation Administration.

While the airport lengthens its main runway, it's been using a shorter, smaller one on which they also installed new lights. But those lights have yet to be certified by the FAA.

It's a question of visibility in minimal, foggy conditions. "Nobody really knew that we needed to flight check this runway for the runway lights," Assistant Airport Manager Steve Lange said.

On Tuesday night, when the fog came in, Alaska Flight 2472 diverted all the way back to Los Angeles and remained there.

The lights have forced Alaska to cancel three other flights inbound and outbound, affecting 194 passengers, some of whom have consequently taken days to reach their final destinations.

"We are frustrated with the situation," Alaska Airlines said today in a statement. "We know many of our customers are greatly inconvenienced and we feel for them. We hope this can be resolved quickly."

"I'm not here to point fingers, but we've had several meetings with the FAA over this project and I think at some point someone should have said, 'You need a flight check for the runway lights,'" Lange said.

The FAA has been doing what it can to expedite the clearance.
Related Topics:
travel airport news sonoma county airline airline industry alaska airlines FAA runway lights flight diverted Santa Rosa
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