Cantwell Announces Grant to Increase Air Service to Wenatchee

USDOT Grant to support increase in passengers using Pangborn Memorial Airport’s commercial service and bring new flights to the site

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Pangborn Memorial Airport officials and business leaders in East Wenatchee to announce that the airport is receiving a $200,000 Small Community Air Service Development Grant to support new flights to Wenatchee and increase usage of existing flights.

This grant will be used in efforts to increase Pangborn Memorial Airport’s commercial air service. The airport will use $100,000 of the grant for advertising and marketing current air service to increase passenger usage of current Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air flights. The remaining $100,000 and $50,000 of local support will be to advertise new service at the airport for destinations outside Pacific Northwest states.

“This airport is a key to Wenatchee Valley’s economic development in a competitive global marketplace,” said Cantwell. “So today we’re here to announce a U.S. Department of Transportation grant, to support more passengers and more flights into this airport. This $200,000 grant will help strengthen the air service here at Pangborn.

“Today’s announcement is about making sure that even more people hear about Wenatchee Valley,” Cantwell continued. “And it’s about businesses knowing they can grow jobs here, and find incredible opportunities for markets and product development. Infrastructure shaped this Valley – whether the investments in hydropower or the Great Northern Railroad – and now future investments are going to be supported by this runway right behind us.” 

“The Port of Chelan County, as the governing board for Pangborn Memorial Airport, is excited about the opportunities this grant provides to enhance our existing service, add additional carriers and destinations for the residents of central Washington, and bring more visitors to enjoy all our region has to offer,” said Craig Larsen, Port of Chelan County Commissioner District #1 and Pangborn Memorial Airport Governing Board President. “The timing of the grant fits nicely with our runway extension project – great things lie ahead for Pangborn and our entire region!”

On August 1, 2013, Cantwell wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx in support of the airport’s grant application.

“This airport is an essential public facility that facilitates economic growth within the community and represents a significant asset to the local tourism industry,” wrote Cantwell in the letter. “The Small Community Air Service Development Program offers the Airport an opportunity to more effectively promote the services offered by its airline partners. The requested grant funding would help the community to preserve the value of an important local asset by ensuring the long term sustainability of local air service.”

In 2012, a total of 98,970 passengers flew to and from Pangborn Airport, a daily average of 135.6 passengers each way. Seattle-Tacoma is the top origination and destination passenger market for Pangborn Airport. In 2012, 15,130 total passengers purchased tickets between Pangborn Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Since 2008, the Wenatchee economy has grown by 5.6 percent, making it the seventh fastest growing economy in the Pacific Northwest.

Tourism is the second-largest industry in North Central Washington behind agriculture. In 2012, travel spending supported 5,420 jobs in Chelan County, 430 jobs in Douglas County and 1,810 jobs in Okanogan County. Travelers and tourists spent $603 million in North Central Washington and supported earnings of $176 million last year.

Wenatchee ranks in the top ten of the most underserved markets in the Pacific Northwest for scheduled air travel. The grant will be used through a partnership of the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce and the Chelan County Lodging Tax Advisory Committee to boost passenger capacity on Pangborn Airport flights from around 60 percent now to over 70 percent by 2015.

The USDOT Small Community Air Service Development grant is used to either support existing air service or build new service. With Cantwell’s support, several airports in Washington state have used the grants to launch efforts to preserve or expand air service.

In February 2013, Cantwell announced that Spokane International Airport had recruited Delta Airlines to begin nonstop flights between Spokane and Los Angeles with the help of a Small Community Air Service Development Grant. The grant enabled Spokane International Airport to recruit Delta by offering short-term risk-offsets to the airline while the Spokane-L.A. air service market is fully establishing itself. In August 2012, Cantwell announced that Walla Walla Regional Airport received a Small Community Air Service Development to support marketing efforts to preserve local commercial air service in the region.