Cantwell Announces $250,000 Air Service Development Grant for Walla Walla Regional Airport

Cantwell-backed grant will help promote and preserve local commercial air service in Walla Walla Valley

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that the Walla Walla Regional Airport is receiving a Small Community Air Service Development grant in the amount of $250,000, with $50,000 contributed from the local community. The grant will support efforts to preserve local commercial air service in the Walla Walla Valley.

Small Community Air Service Development grants are used to either support existing air service service or build new service. Walla Walla Regional Airport is served by only one airline, Alaska Airlines, which depends on a certain number of passengers each year to stay viable. The grant will be used to execute a two-year comprehensive marketing plan aimed at increasing the number of air travelers flying in and out of Walla Walla.

On June 8, 2012, Cantwell sent a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in strong support of the airport’s application for a grant.

“This grant is a significant step forward to support jobs and economic growth in the Walla Walla Valley,” said Senator Cantwell, Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee. “I was proud to strongly support Walla Walla Regional Airport’s bid for this air service development grant, which will help to continue Alaska’s multiple daily direct flights from Seattle to Walla Walla. Growing Walla Walla’s commercial air service will support Southeast Washington jobs from hotels to small businesses to wineries.”

“We thank Senator Cantwell for her support of this grant and helping preserve commercial air service,” said Jim Kuntz, executive director for the Port of Walla Walla. “Without her support, we would not have received this grant. Local commercial air service is one of those things a regional community needs to be successful. This grant is an important milestone for the airport. It will allow us to execute a two-year plan to encourage locals to fly Walla Walla first. We’ll also promote Walla Walla as a stopover from Seattle for tourists.”  

According to the Walla Walla Regional Airport, in 2011, 32,127 passengers flew from Walla Walla Regional Airport to Seattle, and 32,002 passengers flew from Seattle to Walla Walla.