Bob Watkins, the airport authority’s new chairman, told me last week that he’d gone on a London trade mission last October to try to drum up business for Zoom Airlines, which briefly provided direct flights between San Diego and London.

But Zoom Airlines no longer served San Diego when Watkins and other airport officials traveled. Zoom went bankrupt in August, discontinuing service to London and stranding passengers in San Diego. Its operations stopped, flights were halted, and the airport authority had to write off $81,000 in debt that Zoom owed.

Watkins told me the costs of sending him and three other airport officials were related to business development efforts to find clients and customers for Zoom Airlines. The four also went to support the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, he said.

“The trip to the U.K. was a business development trip based on the fact that … Zoom Airlines had actually come into San Diego in great fanfare and we had organized a trip to support them to help develop business for them in the U.K.,” Watkins said.

Watkins charged the flying public for $1,200 Chargers tickets while in London and went to a $350 reception for the Chargers, as we revealed in a story posted last night about employee expenses at the airport authority. Watkins’ total trip cost $10,907.64.

I have a call and an e-mail into Watkins to discuss the issue further.

ROB DAVIS

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