California Air Shuttle


January 1990


California Air Shuttle (7Q) was a commuter airline that was established by Steven Lay and Michael Minson as a re-incarnation of the past Qwest Air which was based out of Long Beach. The new airline named, California Air Shuttle, would be based in Oxnard, California just northwest of Los Angeles. Although the Ventura region (Oxnard Airport) was served by both United Express and American Eagle with "shuttle" flights to LAX, Steven Lay saw opportunity for non-stop service to the Bay Area and Las Vegas. The new airline forged an agreement with America West Airlines as a code-share partner and leased two, 19-seat Swearingen Metroliners (N1010Z TC-373, N167SW TC-322) from Fairchild in December 1989. Flights started on January 7, 1990, from Oxnard to Las Vegas, however further expansion was sought to San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento. During the initial months of 1990, California Air Shuttle was limited to only Las Vegas, as plans to acquire more Metroliners fell short as well as approval to add service to Bay Area airports was denied. There was discussion of purchasing Beech 1900s instead of additional Metroliners, however this never materialized. The airline planned to start service into Bullhead City-Laughlin in September 1990, from both Las Vegas and Oxnard, yet the route was never started. Thoughts were also expressed to sell company shares via a public offering hoping to raises necessary capital for purchase of additional planes and expansion to other cities. The initial public offering was forecast to raise $5 million in liquid cash, yet due to timing and other factors wasn’t completed. The airline struggled to fill seats and with the high costs of fuel, due to the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq and rising operating costs the new airline eventually ceased operations in December 1990, less than a year after starting services. The two Metroliners were returned to the lessors and the airline was dissolved.

Although the airline had ambitions to expand services, the only airport served by California Air Shuttle from Oxnard was Las Vegas. Seen taxiing inbound at Las Vegas-McCarran International Airport in February 1990, is N167SW, a Swearingen SA-226TC, Metro II, originally delivered to Rio Airways in 1980 and leased to California Air Shuttle in December 1989. (Photo courtesy Richard Saligi)


Parked at its home base of Oxnard Municipal Airport and wearing a rather eye-catching color scheme is N167SW, a Swearingen SA-226TC Metro II, lease out from Fairchild Aircraft Corporation in December 1989.


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