The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news.
The City of Yakima got some good news recently in the form of a Federal Department of Transportation grant that will help enhance commercial air service out of Yakima. The $290,000 Small Community Air Service Development grant will help Yakima further push for more service to Seattle. The funding will also support the City's efforts to develop a new route to Portland. According to Sean Hawkins, Yakima's Economic Development Manager, "We are excited to get this grant - it will help us boost efforts to add more flights out of Yakima. Hopefully these resources position us to get a fourth flight between Yakima and Seattle."
So far Yakima's airport marketing program has increased passenger loads from 70 to 74 percent. Alaska airlines has hinted it will consider adding a fourth flight to Yakima when passenger loads hit 75 percent. A fourth flight between Yakima and Seattle would help reduce the long layovers at Seatac that prompt many local travelers to fly out of Pasco or Seatac.
The City will also use the grant funds to develop a new Portland route. Yakima's initial research showed that Portland flights could work and a portion of the grant funds will be used to jumpstart this flight. Details still need to be worked out with Alaska Airlines or another carrier for the Portland route so this part of the project will unfold more slowly.
Recent research shows that more than half our community drives somewhere else to catch a plane. It would be great if we could offer better local air service so we can capture more Yakima Valley travelers. Boosting local air traffic helps our local economy and certainly offers greater convenience for all of us trying to get from Yakima to other points around the world.
To learn more about the City of Yakima's arport, click here