Small Community Air Service Incentives Enhanced from Sea-Tac Airport

The Port of Seattle Commission has approved an enhanced program for new commercial air services to small communities in order to stimulate critical links between them and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The Port of Seattle Commission has approved an enhanced program for new commercial air services to small communities in order to stimulate critical links between them and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The new program targets small communities in Washington, Oregon and Idaho and will provide participating airlines with temporary waivers of landing fees and certain facility charges as well as joint promotional support designed to assist the establishment of new services in the first two years. 

“This continues our efforts to be an economic engine for our entire region,” said Stephanie Bowman, Port of Seattle Commission Co-President. “We recognize the difficulties faced by small Pacific Northwest communities in attracting viable air service. This incentive could bring this closer to reality for these communities.”

The new enhancement updates the incentives to include full waivers on landing fees, gate/lobby fees, and ticket counter fees for the first two years of service, plus joint promotional funds. Depending on the level of service, annual benefits to airlines could reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Air service to Seattle Tacoma is a critical link to the global transportation network, though services from smaller Washington airports have declined in recent years. In 2000, there were nearly 42,000 annual scheduled passenger departures to eleven Washington airports, which by 2015 had decreased to less than 15,000 scheduled departures to seven Washington Airports.

Port Angeles and Moses Lake are among some of the airports who no longer have services to Sea-Tac Airport.

No airlines have taken advantage of the Small Community Service Incentive Program since it began in 2007, and smaller airports nationwide have faced challenges attracting air service due to fundamental shifts in airline economics.

At least one passenger airline has expressed “an absolute interest” in connecting Port Angeles with Seattle, according to a Port of Port Angeles Commissioner.

“There is absolute interest, especially now the costs have gone down,” Colleen McAleer said.

Port Angeles lost its scheduled service on November 14, 2014, when Kenmore Air stopped flying from Fairchild to Seattle’s Boeing Field and shuttling passengers to Sea­Tac.