FlySalem is looking for nonstop carriers to LA, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Phoenix
The local steering committee says the region can expect up to four nonstop destination flights from Salem airport over the next 24 months.
Photo courtesy of Salem Reporter
The FlySalem Steering Committee provided an update to Keizer City Council at the April 4 meeting. Committee Chairman Brent DeHart spoke about the impact of the pandemic and supply chain shortages on the airline industry, how McNary Field has dealt with these challenges and its plans. for the future.
Despite the logistical challenges presented by COVID, the airline industry is not uniformly suffering from a downturn, he said.
“Big airlines are shrinking, but smaller ones are growing,” he said. “Low cost carriers are looking to expand… these include carriers like Frontier, Allegiant, Jet Blue, Ovello, Breeze. Four of these carriers are very interested in Willamette Valley service. »
Future destinations for these carriers will depend on the arrangement they make with the airport, but he said the location of the service will be entirely up to the carrier.
“If it’s just one carrier, it’s going to be the LA Basin,” he said. “If it’s another, it’ll be Las Vegas. We won’t know until they engage, and hopefully at least two of them will – we’re getting optimistic now.
In addition to these two potential nonstop destinations, Sky Harbor in Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay Area are also popular with commuters in the Willamette Valley.
“It’s possible that within two years we’ll have nonstop destinations to these four sunny spots,” DeHart said.
He also noted that Salem Airport has been able to operate for the past four and a half years without using additional municipal money other than the annual City of Salem funds already dedicated to the airport.
“This is a dedicated fund, it’s important to note – funding for the airport does not come from the general fund,” he said.
DeHart noted that the airport applied for a federal grant to help recruit new carriers to McNary Field, and he said it was the only grant application that had the support of the air carriers themselves. They have unsuccessfully applied for the grant twice before.
“We think third time is the charm,” he said. “We are hoping to get $850,000 in federal grants to recruit commercial air services.”
DeHart added that contrary to popular opinion, the now-ended 17-month relationship between Salem Municipal Airport and Delta Airlines has been a success. He said the reason for the carrier’s departure was entirely due to issues with the specific aircraft designated for routes to and from McNary Field: the Boeing 737D.
“It wasn’t just Delta — every airline had to ground those planes,” DeHart said.