Low Cost Carriers Being Considered To Offset Service Reductions at Pangborn
The Chelan Douglas Port Authority meets with the airline industry on a regular basis to explore possible future service to Pangborn Airport, which the Port operates.
Some Port commissioners and management staff recently attended a conference, where they spoke with several carriers.
There was agreement that low cost carriers could be a good fit to serve Pangborn, especially with the recent reduction of the only existing service from Horizon Air to a single daily flight.
"The meetings with those ultra-low cost carriers were probably the most productive," said Director of Airports Trent Moyers. "And I think, from a timing standpoint, could produce sooner than one of the main line carriers."
Moyers said low cost carriers had more flexibility in the current air travel climate to start up service to Wenatchee.
United, a large carrier which wants to increase traffic at its hub in Denver, is still years away from fulfilling that goal.
Horizon Air reduced service from three daily flights from Pangborn to Seattle to a single flight in September, blaming the cut on a shortage of pilots. It's not known exactly when Horizon, which is owned by Alaska Airlines, will restore service to previous levels, which actually peaked at four daily flights during summer months.
Among the low cost carriers that Port commissioners and staff members met with were Allegiant, Sun Country, Sky West, Avelo and Breeze.
Meanwhile, the Port has an incentive program that offers $1.1 million to the first airline that starts up service from Pangborn to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Moyers noted the Oakland Airport has its own incentive arrangement to draw in new service
"If you can bring new service into their market, they'll pay for marketing up to $100,000," Moyers said. "And they'll pay $10 per enplanement that you can get into their market. And so, we talk about Bay Area service being important to us. There's an airport that's looking for drawing service in as well."
Moyers and a couple of commissioners said the low cost carriers in general want to keep their costs down. Moyers thinks those airlines could see value in connecting service between Pangborn and Oakland, which are both offering incentives.
Moyers joined Port Commissioners Donn Etherington and Mark Spurgeon to share their thoughts in an Air Service Conference Report at the most recent Port Authority meeting.