How many cities are served by Spokane Airport?

A Horizon Air Fairchild FH-27 at Spokane Inter...

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Spokane International Airport Route Map. Click the link to see where you can fly non-stop from Spokane. The Spokane International Airport (SIA) lists 13 direct flight cities as non-stop destination routes from Spokane.

I used Expedia.com and the Southwest.com web sites, directly, to check for flights between Spokane and the cities listed for a hypothetical flight in January 2011. (Southwest does not list flights on Expedia.) I only checked one day in January – it is possible that different days could have a different number of flights available.

Here is what I found in terms of directly served (non-stop) cities:

  • Chicago – zero flights per day; discontinued United service
  • Chicago – one daily flight in Nov 2010. This flight no longer exists on several dates checked in January 2011. UPDATE: As of Nov 2011, no Chicago flights are scheduled in 2012. Chicago flights are now gone.
  • Sacramento has 1 flight per day
  • San Jose, Ca has 1 flight per day
  • Minneapolis  has 2 flights per day
  • San Francisco has 2 flights per day
  • Oakland has 2 flights per day
  • Phoenix has 2 flights per day
  • Las Vegas has 2 flights per day
  • Boise has 3 flights per day
  • Salt Lake City has 3 flights per day
  • Denver has 9 flights per day
  • Portland has 12 flights per day
  • Seattle has 21 flights per day

Perhaps I have miscounted or perhaps some flights might not be listed on Expedia’s or Southwest’s web sites. So I may be off a little. Please post corrections in the comments. And again, the exact set of flights and their count may vary from day to day.

It appears that Spokane International Airport

  • serves 12 13 non-stop cities today; 12 in January 2011
  • this is down from 15 non-stop cities in 2005 and 16 in 2004.
  • this is 60 daily flights down from 70 daily flights in 2005
  • has no scheduled international flights, in spite of its name
  • has fewer passengers today than in 1996.

From a local economy standpoint, the airport’s passenger count is a rough measure of the local economy.  SIA said in 2005 that the airport’s passenger count reflects the local economy, which suggests Spokane’s economy has experienced considerable weakening.  The total number of aircraft operations (independent of passenger counts) would also go down as smaller aircraft, flying frequently, are replaced with larger aircraft flying the route less often (this has happened).

Beginning in April 2011, Southwest will eliminate their daily flight to Salt Lake City and reduce one flight each to Boise and Seattle. They will add one non-stop between Phoenix and Spokane for a net loss of 2 daily flights.

After the break this article continues with a list of cities that used to be flown non-stop out of Spokane.

A reduction in air service, as has occurred in Spokane would discourage businesses from expanding in Spokane as it makes air access to distant suppliers, vendors, partners, clients and customers more difficult.  Air travel is essential to most national or world-class businesses and hinders Spokane’s success in a globalized economy.

In addition to non-stop flights, there may also be “direct” flights that continue on to another destination without changing planes. For example, at one time I flew Spokane to Seattle to San Jose and back again, but did not change planes in Seattle. Depending on the flight, these planes usually stop in Seattle for 40 to 60 minutes before continuing on.

I made no attempt to identify or count “direct” flights.

Another interesting quote from the 2005 article:

“Nonstop service invigorates the market, because of its ease and convenience,” Woodard [of SIA] says. “For our community’s economic growth in attracting capital investment, the Bay Area is the place for biotech and electronic development, and not having that nonstop flight puts us at a disadvantage.”

Today Spokane does have 5 flights to the Bay area.

Another business, Itron, says they do not hold their annual meeting here because of the lack of air travel options for attendees.

What cities were lost?

Here are at least some of the past flights to/from Spokane within roughly the last decade:

  • Los Angeles (on Horizon and ExpressJet in 2007 and also Alaska Air).
  • Ontario, CA
  • San Diego (all 3 on ExpressJet, which no longer serves Spokane – started in 2007 and left shortly thereafter). Horizon also served San Diego.
  • Montana – I don’t remember which cities were served by Big Sky Airlines (out of business in 2007) but they flew to Montana cities from Spokane
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Olympia, WA
  • Calgary, Alberta (United, Big Sky)
  • Reno, NV (ExpressJet)
  • Tucscon, AZ (ExpressJet)
  • I am told there was once non-stop service to Vancouver, B.C., but I cannot verify that. All of the above were verified in press releases or news stories.

Spokane has also seen a reduction in service between cities still served. Three years ago, there were two daily non-stops to Sacramento but now there is only one. At one time, multiple airlines flew non-stop to Los Angeles or San Diego but today, there are no flights on those routes. They cutbacks to/from Spokane have been severe.

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8 Responses to How many cities are served by Spokane Airport?

  1. Pingback: Spokane Airport non-stop destinations – in charts « Spokane Economic And Demographic Data

  2. Dan says:

    I saw your post from last week and wanted to get back to you.

    I noticed you updated the info about flights to MSP. The Chicago flights are still in existence. You can check flights to/from GEG at Flight Aware.com . The Chicago flights are contracted out by United Airlines. Yes, Vancouver flights were in existance in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Frontier flew to YVR from Spokane and when the old Frontier went backrupt, Western/Delta stepped in during Expo ’86 into the early 90’s. Blame the lack of Canadian flights from GEG on the air agreement with Canada in the 90’s. Up until that time, the airlines bid on routes that were open and had defined routes into Canada. That is why United stopped flying into Calgary. Unitl the agreement, airlines jumped on open routes to get into the U.S. air market.

    You compared this Economically challenged year at GEG with 1996 a record year? Even a couple years ago the number of passengers at GEG were similar to the 1996 passenger numbers. Spokane airport is doing better than other airports with the amount of percentage reductions.

    Express Jet increased the passenger numbers at GEG when they were here, but the fuel price increases forced them to close their airline service nationwide. It showed that Spokane could support new air routes out of GEG.

    The Spokane – Boise Comparison is getting old. Let’s make Spokane the best it can be as a Regional City that serves portions of 4 States and areas of Canada! It’s like comparing Apples to Oranges! I’m not really impressed with Southern Idaho. Spokane has a strong history. Southern Idaho is having their own problems that last couple of years.

    With Southwest adding a new flight to Phoenix, it is showing to me that the airport is supporting longer flights out of GEG. Not just another flight to Seattle. Our reliance on SEA-TAC has been diminished.
    San Francisco flights did not exist in 2005, so with the new route back, it brings back a route United dropped from 2000 to 2009!

    The airport is doing well compared to other cities. New routes were added the last few years. Let’s build on that and move forward to new routes and airport improvements!

  3. inlandnw says:

    After 15 years we do have fewer passengers flying out of Spokane in 2009 (and estimated for 2010) than in 1996. That is what the data shows. The original data table and the source for the data, which is SIA, is linked on this web site (see https://inlandnw.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/boise-versus-spokane-airport-passenger-trends/)

    Why was their a peak in the mid 1990s? I do not not have an answer to that. Do you know?

    I drew (also this web site) the trend line back as far as the data goes to 1990. I like to look at historical data, over time, rather than instant snapshots.
    (See also https://inlandnw.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/spokane-airport-passenger-and-cargo-handled-since-1990/)

    As I noted in all the posts on the airport, there are several issues at play including:
    – overall economy
    – change in mix of smaller to larger aircraft
    – other changes in the airline industry that affect profitability and route selection

    I also described my method of sampling and said that it was for one day and their could be flights on other days. I did link to a press release with United saying they had discontinued the Chicago flight. I also tried to find other days with Chicago flights but was not successful.

    As to Boise, BOTH Boise and Spokane use each other as “comparable city” measures. That is not my choice, that is the official choice of both communities. They both use each other as way of gauging success in various regional economic development issues.

    You say the airport is doing well compared to other cities. I’m sure there are other cities that are worse. I did do comparisons to Boise, again, because that is the official choice for both Boise and Spokane. I also compared to Seattle (that chart is elsewhere on this web site). Boise only provides data back to 1996 and that is why that start date was chosen for the comparison chart.

    Spokane’s airport traffic, based on actual data, is not doing better compared to Boise. Boise today has a net gain over the time period; Spokane does not.

    While new routes may have been added to Spokane in “the last few years”, there has been a net loss of routes from 16 in 2004 to 12 (or 13) today. That is a fact. Both figures come from either the SIA web site or past media reports quoting SIA management.

    You may have also missed my comments that I do not blame the airport or airport management for these trends. But I do ding the airport for some bad forecasting. Please see
    https://inlandnw.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/spokane-airport-passenger-and-cargo-handled-since-1990/

    Airport passenger and cargo data is often used as a proxy for overall regional activity. I believe these data are a reflection of regional economic patterns and do not have a lot to do with the airport itself.

    I appreciate the boundless optimism. That’s were I started too. But as I collected data about Spokane I was quite surprised by what I learned since it does not always agree with what we are led to believe about Spokane.

    I welcome corrections if the data is wrong and in many places I say that it could be wrong for any number of reasons. I even say this right on the front page – see right column of the web site! I do correct data if a better official source is provided. All of the airport data comes from the SIA or Boise airport web sites themselves.

    The purpose of the web site is to share the data I have collected about Spokane.

    I do agree that we are probably at a point where things will be looking upwards again but the positive growth comes in part from the recent losses. Climbing out of a hole is moving up!

  4. inlandnw says:

    Using FlightAware.com (thank you) instead of Expedia, they show one current daily Skywest flight to/from Chicago from Spokane on board a 70 seat CRJ-700.

    I have updated the main post to change that. I will note, however, that this flight does NOT exist on the dates I checked in January 2011 and I checked several. Now knowing that it is actually a Skywest/United Express service flight, I checked on their web site specifically for January that flight no longer exists.

  5. Dan says:

    The spike in the 1996 passenger number was probably because Southwest Airlines bought Morris Air in 1995 and started flying to Spokane in 1995, when it took on Morris Air air routes and started flying to Oakland. It probably increased passengers since it brought lower fares to Spokane.

    I’m not sure why you are using the record year of 1996 with a year(2009) that has decreased passengers for airports nationally? Ttrue, it does show a reduction in passengers, but Like I stated, Spokane International almost met the record passengers about 2 or 3 years ago when Express Jet increased passenger was here . As I recall, with enplaned and deplaned passengeres totalled just short of 3.5 million people at SIA in 2007 or 2008.

    Spokane air routes are dependant on Airline Corporate decisions, and as I stated earlier , the Air agreement with Canada….unfortunately.

    I do think it is positive to have longer routes out of Spokane….for example a few short years ago, we didn’t have regular flights to Las Vegas….now we have two. Shortly, we will have three fights a day to PHX on two airlines. I see this as a positive over having more flights to Seattle. Passengers are paying more for these flights than at $78 or $98 to Seattle. Less dependance on other Northwest cities is a gain to Spokane!

    True, some routes are vacant, such as to LAX, but hopefully they will be brought back soon!

  6. Dan says:

    You used the 2000 Master plan of the airport….don’t you think 09-11-2001 and recessions since that time had a major affect on airports, locally and nationally, since this Master plan? I would thnk it would toss the estimate out the window!

  7. inlandnw says:

    I mostly agree on the economic impacts – the problem is that the forecast was already off in the first year and kept deviating away from the forecast ever since.

    SIA management or Board should have been monitoring that deviation and should have addressed the deviation sooner. Only now, 10 years later, have they announced they are starting work on a new master plan.

    My concern is not that the forecast is wrong – it is that the forecast was off almost immediately and that management did not follow up as the deviation expanded year over year.

    I do not blame management for the world around them changing but I do ding management for not paying closer attention to the deviation and updating their forecast sooner. That forecast is used to drive their selection of airport improvements. I confirmed with the airport early this year that they had not updated the forecast since the master plan 10 years ago.

    I think the forecast should be updated and published annually.

    I also appreciate that SIA puts their data, plans and meeting agendas and minutes online. They do a good job at sharing their information with the public.

  8. Pingback: Top 23 most read blog posts on this web site « Spokane Economic And Demographic Data

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