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Publisher’s Note | Hurdles remain for Frisco flight

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If marketers are searching for a testimonial on reasons to “Fly Wenatchee,” they need look no further than my colleague.

You don’t look so good,” I told him late Wednesday afternoon. I generally don’t say anything when a colleague doesn’t look so good, but this one looked like he’d been mugged and I was worried.

I got home from Boston at 2:30 this morning,” he said. “My flight was delayed; and by the time I landed in Seattle, found my car and drove home to Wenatchee, it was 2:30.”

He said it wasn’t much better on his trip to Boston.

We left the house in plenty of time, drove to the airport in Seattle and parked the car a full 90 minutes before the flight,” he said. “But by the time we got through TSA, they had to hold the flight for us as we literally ran to the gate.”

In other words, it took him almost as long to get from the parking spot to his gate as it took to drive from here to Seattle, which is why my friend is not a fan of the Seattle airport. 

You want a promotional idea for “Fly Wenatchee”? Give two people a “Go Pro” camera and have them go to the same connecting gate in Seattle. One drives from here to Seattle and the other flies from Pangborn Memorial Airport to Seattle on one of four flights each day. Let’s see who arrives at the gate first and in the best emotional state.

I attended a meeting at the Confluence Technology Center to hear the latest on efforts to secure a flight between Wenatchee and San Francisco. If those efforts are successful, there could be one flight per day to the Bay Area starting as soon as June 2019.The problem is finding an airline willing to add a flight and there are several reasons why that’s not as easy as it sounds.

The biggest obstacle is choice. According to the presentation from Jack Penning — whose company Volaire Aviation Consulting has been tasked with spearheading the effort — the U.S. airline industry essentially consists of nine airlines. In the 1980s, there were more than 35.

The reality is there are only three airlines (Alaska, United and SkyWest) likely to give Wenatchee serious consideration.

And in order to get a “yes,” we’d have to convince an airline we can fill a daily fight to the Bay Area with a minimum of 40 passengers, according to the study. And if we can’t fill those seats, the airline will grab the money from the $1.2 million fund committed in public/private partnership to guarantee the revenue until the fund runs dry.

From the airline’s perspective, Wenatchee would need to be a good strategic fit, offering long-term success and have available gate space.

If we can’t find an airline willing to fly from Wenatchee to San Francisco, the next option would be Denver, which is a regional hub for connecting flights. Other low-cost carrier targets include Las Vegas and Phoenix, according to the study.

A flight from Wenatchee to Phoenix would be pretty sweet around…say…January or February when I suspect the path behind my place will be frozen solid.

Until then, I encourage you to Fly Wenatchee whenever possible. If you don’t have anyplace to go, send a relative instead. We all have a relative or two we’d like to see leave town for a few days.

 

Jeff Ackerman can be reached at 665-1160 or at ackerman@wenatcheeworld.com.