Pangborn Airport Joining Coalition To Boost Rural Air Service
Pangborn Airport is now a member of a coalition which is trying to improve air service to a group of rural airports.
The airport has joined the coalition RESTORE, which intends to lobby in the U.S. Congress for the interests of Pangborn and other small community airports.
Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority Director of Airports Trent Moyers says they'll be looking for federal help with several challenges facing rural airports.
"There's issues such as pilot shortage that has put a demand on where those pilots are used," said Moyers. "There's the issue of minimum revenue guarantees where the airlines are coming into those local communities and asking for revenue to help support the cost of serving small communities."
The Port is now guaranteeing Alaska Airlines $500,000 in annual revenue just for the airline to provide a second daily flight to from Pangborn to Seattle.
Pangborn is being joined by the Yakima airport in the new effort to improve rural air service.
Moyers says it's an effort to get support for rural airports from the federal government.
"The hope is that we would get some additional levers to pull that we can help get that air service back into these small communities," Moyers said.
The Port Authority, which owns and operates Pangborn Airport, is now contributing $1,500 per month to the congressional lobbying coalition. The Port decided to make that commitment for a year after hearing a presentation from RESTORE at its last board of commissioners meeting.
RESTORE intends to establish a 501(c)(6) organization as a tax-exempt nonprofit entity that primarily serves the interests of its members who are typically businesses, trade associations, professional organizations, or industry groups.
Unlike 501(c)(3) organizations, which are focused on charitable, educational, or religious activities, 501(c)(6) organizations are designed to support and advance the collective interests of their member businesses or industries.
Pangborn will be joining these other airports in the coalition.
Current Sustaining Members
- Williamsport, PA
- Del Rio, TX
- Elmira, NY
- Jamestown, NY
- Wenatchee, WA
- Yakima, WA
- Hagerstown, MD
- Lake Cumberland, KY
- Topeka, KS
The current sustaining member airports are already contributing funding, with Williamsport, PA supplying $8,000/month and Del Rio, TX contributing $2,500/month.
Many rural airports have completely lost commercial air services in the last year or so because of pilot shortages and major carriers pulling back on rural market service from their hubs.
The Port Authority will continue its relationship with air service development consultant Volaire. The arrangement is changing however as the Port will pay Volaire only for services with certain efforts to market the airport to airlines. The Port was paying Volaire $4,000/month for consultation. It had paid Volaire more than $322,000 since signing a contract with the consultant in 2017. To date, no additional air service has been established to Wenatchee.
Efforts will still be made to get direct service to markets that are a final destination for a large portion of travelers from Pangborn, including the Bay Area and southern California. There's also a hope service could be established to hub airports in Salt Lake City and Denver.