Airport administration and board members are meeting with community partners and aviation consultants to develop a plan to provide commercial air service to Portland after the recent departure of PenAir on August 8th.
Small regional airports nationwide have been impacted by a pilot shortage resulting from expensive increases in flight training standards and low salaries for entry-level pilots. The Oregon Department of Aviation is taking steps to ensure commercial air service to rural airports will continue by identifying rural air service needs, educating stakeholders about available grants and other funding to subsidize routes to key rural population centers.
Locally, Southwest Oregon Regional Airport plans to apply for grant funding from the Oregon Department of Aviation for marketing dollars to shore up existing air service to San Francisco and Denver, and is working with aviation consultants to identify carriers that may provide air service between North Bend and Portland. Regional airports must typically subsidize routes until financial viability is established. Southwest Oregon Regional Airport has partnered with Bandon Dunes Golf Resort to support the existing Denver flight, and will apply for additional grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Small Communities Air Service Development Program to help pay for a new air route to Portland.
In addition to local and regional partners, the Coos County Airport District will be working closely with state and federal legislators to help bring sustainable air service to Southwest Oregon Regional Airport. Sustainable commercial air service is essential to regional prosperity, here and throughout Oregon.
For your information, the following is a recent article describing the impact of the pilot shortage on regional carriers.