CHICO >> Surveys and studies are second nature to businesses as they try to ferret out consumer inclinations, but there are two efforts related to Chico losing airline service that will be significant to the community and the region.

Two surveys are being launched, one on Wednesday for community members and travelers in general. The other for local businesses, government and nonprofits will be folded into a phone survey.

Answers to the surveys will help Chico move forward say organizers, who hope the information will help build an air service strategy.

Chico isn”t trying to reverse SkyWest Airline”s decision any more, although city officials did immediately talk with the airlines after the announcement.

The city and business community instead are working on the next steps, including what will travelers do after Dec. 2, when SkyWest ends service. How Chico investigates new air service is another goal.

“We are following up on multiple lines of inquiry,” said Chico Chamber of Commerce CEO Katie Simmons, who said it”s not as simple as funding a study, finding an airline and bringing them in.

Determining air passenger habits and desires is an early but important step, she said. Questions about destinations, travel habits and other matters will be asked in the community travel survey which will be available online at the chamber”s website, Print copies can be requested as well through the chamber at 891-5556.

The community travel survey was created with the help of Matthew Stone, assistant professor in the Recreation, Hospitality and Parks Management Department at Chico State University, who stepped up to help after hearing about SkyWest. He told this newspaper he has experience with surveys, tourism and travel writing in the past.

Response to the survey will be collected for about six weeks before answers are evaluated. Taking the survey should require 12 minutes or less, Stone said.

“We already have data on the number of travelers coming through Chico,” Stone said, citing past studies and government information.

What Stone said isn”t known are details like travel activities, which airports are used, perceptions and misperceptions about flying out of Chico, Sacramento and San Francisco.

Among the chamber”s goals is to find out what it will take to make air service work in Chico, which will require understanding local travelers” needs, Simmons said.

“We want to dig into the data, and see if there are numbers that can mean something to us,” Stone said.

Businesses will likely get a phone call from the chamber. Similar information will be requested, but with more questions about travel details, budgets, destinations, flying frequency and more.

A major component of Chico”s planning is dependent on the business community. Something called a travel bank is under study.

Redding has a travel bank, and a former county supervisor from Santa Rosa who talked about air travel in Chico has endorsed the concept.

The business survey will help the chamber and city better understand its commercial sector”s habits, which have been the mainstay of the Chico airport.

The executive survey will be pinning down corporate and business travel habits and details, like budgets and projections, destinations and the like, which could make the case stronger for evaluating local demand and attracting another carrier.

The travel bank could be a make-or-break feature of any new plan for Chico air service. While it can take many forms, a travel bank is basically a collection of funds guaranteed to an airline to provide service. Simmons said one considered in Chico has not taken shape because it”s early in the process. Determining if local businesses will add to that fund is an essential step the chamber hopes to determine. Stone said any effort to land an airlines will also take the much-discussed market study mulled by the Airport Commission and City Council earlier this year.

While projected cost could range from $25,000 to $40,000, it will require a paid consultant who would update the information that Chico had from an earlier market study.

The goal of all this is to attract another airline, but the bottom line is whether travelers in this area will really support it. Given the reason for SkyWest”s departure, that support is a big question mark.

Simmons said the business community comments have been a combination of positive and negative over SkyWest”s decision. Some view this as an opportunity to find a carrier that won”t contribute to delayed or canceled flights.

Others are fearful that a new match won”t be made, and Simmons notes that matching travel habits, budgets and an airlines may not be easy.

Contact reporter Laura Urseny at 896-7756.

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