Walla Walla Airport Boardings Up Again

Air travel was on the rise last month, surging into the record books for the fifth time in six months this year.

According to the most recent figures, outbound air travel from the Walla Walla Regional Airport soared by 15.8 percent in June compared to the same month a year ago. Inbound flights carried 14.8 percent more travelers into the community in June compared to June 2013.

“I sound like a broken record, but we have half of 2014 under our belts and we continue to make great strides,” said airport Manager Jennifer Skoglund this morning.

She said June is typically a slower month as summer travel just begins to heat up.

“This was a big surprise,” Skoglund said.

The number of outbound passengers was 3,270, a nearly 16 percent jump from the previous June record, in 2013, of 2,824 passengers, according to the figures. During the same month, 3,137 people flew into the Walla Walla Regional Airport, reflecting a nearly 15 percent increase from June 2013 — also the previous record for deplanements.

Air travel out of Walla Walla for the first six months is up 7.7 percent from 2013. Inbound traffic is up 6.2 percent for the first half of the year.

The passenger numbers are just one aspect of air travel that measures the airport’s success, Skoglund said. Officials also keep an eye on the load factor, which is the percentage of available seats occupied. The two daily outbound flights averaged a 78.76 percent load factor. The two inbound flights averaged 76.48 percent. The combined average for June was 77.62 percent — up from 72.02 percent in June 2013.

Much has been done to market and save air travel at Walla Walla’s small airport.

With one commercial carrier, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, Walla Walla has faced flight reductions and the potential loss of air service in recent years. Now halfway through the second year of a two-year $250,000 federal grant to help promote and stabilize air service, the numbers have never been better, officials say.

By Vicki Hillhouse
Published by Walla Walla Union Bulletin 
- As of Thursday, July 10, 2014