Airport still wants Denver flights, possibly Vegas

Jan. 12—The Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport, which plans to open its new terminal in May, is projecting 145,000 passengers boarding aircraft per year at the airport by 2030.

Airport Director Tony Bean is eyeing future goals for the airport as it continues to get busier. He discussed some of those Thursday during a Moscow Transportation Commission meeting.

Once again, Bean will travel to the annual Air Service Development Conference this year in Phoenix to persuade airlines to add more flights at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.

Bean said the airport, which provides flights to Seattle and Boise, is working to secure flights to Denver and Portland. However, the competition is tough.

“You are competing literally with every community your size in the country for an airplane,” he said.

He said the Air Service Development Conference is where airports make their pitches to airlines by selling the value of their communities and demonstrating why they should be at the top of the airlines’ lists. Bean called it “speed-dating with airlines.”

In addition to United Airlines, Bean also wants to make a pitch to Allegiant Air. He said Allegiant Air provides flights to Las Vegas, which is one of the most popular destinations among local travelers, according to data.

“We’re able to show that Vegas is our No. 2 destination,” he said.

Bean said Seattle is the top destination.

Since airports have to provide compensation to airlines to mitigate risk, Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport has about $1.5 million it can offer for Denver flights, he said.

Bean said he has been talking to United Airlines about a Denver flight for 10 years. He said it took 10 years to get an Alaska Airlines flight to Boise.

As the airport grows, Bean said there is a need to grow Airport Road as well. He said Whitman County is working on using grant money to widen Airport Road to make it safer for travelers. Airport Road is also a corridor between Moscow and Pullman, and Bean said there is interest in expanding that roadway to make it safe for present and future traffic.

The new terminal will have space for buses to drop off passengers, so both Pullman and Moscow have had discussions about providing transit service to the airport.

Moscow City Councilor Hailey Lewis said during Thursday’s meeting that SMART Transit in Moscow is exploring the possibility of adding a stop at the airport. Bean said the airport is having discussions with Pullman Transit to extend service there as well.

Kuipers can be reached at [email protected].

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