Spokane Airport News back in 2001, 2005 and 2006

This is the last of the items on the airport that have been queued up.

Back in 2005, a growing Spokane International Airport represented economic growth for Spokane:

Spokane’s level of passenger growth is higher than the national average of 3.6 percent, Woodard says.

These numbers are a strong indicator that Spokane’s economy is growing at a robust rate, faster than the nation as a whole,” he says. “As a region, that’s a point of pride.”

….

Nonstop service invigorates the market, because of its ease and convenience,” Woodard 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.”

The Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce’s air service marketing task force has been trying to reestablish nonstop service to the Bay Area for the past several years by talking to representatives of major carriers, such as Alaska Airlines and American Airlines, says Rich Hadley, the chamber’s president and CEO. He says the airport’s current passenger numbers indicate a strong economy, which could be boosted by increasing traffic to the Bay Area.

via SIA expects to soar to record | Journal of Business | Find Articles at BNET.

And in 2006:

“Spokane is more on the map than it’s ever been,” Hadley said. “The airport’s current numbers indicate a strong economy, which could be boosted by gaining more traffic from the Bay Area. Also, there’s a lot of interest in us coming out of California. The issue in San Jose is that we have more economic ties there than we had 10 years ago. Also, attracting capital investment is important here and the Bay Area is the right place for (financing) biotech and electronic development. Without nonstop flights to that area, we’re at a disadvantage (in attracting capital).

No kidding! VC money has dried up in Spokane. My contacts say if you want VC investments, you need to move to Vancouver, Seattle, Portland or the SF Bay area.

January 2001, Spokesman-Review:

North Idaho and Spokane have long struggled to show up on the short lists of computer and software companies looking for places to do business. The ability to travel to bigger cities, in a short amount of time, adds to the desirability of our region. Agilent Technologies and World Wide Packets for instance, frequently send their employees to California for meetings. …

Rich Hadley, president of the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce, e-mailed 130 companies in the region and asked them to consider the negative impacts of the canceled flights.

via The Spokesman-Review.com – Let’s tell United we stand together.

The last sentence is, in retrospect, funny. Apparently they did consider the negative impacts of the canceled flights. Agilent and World Wide Packets, mentioned in the story, closed their Spokane operations, as did numerous other high tech companies.

Certain classes of workers need to travel – including high skilled, highly educated sales and marketing, engineering, science and other staff. Other classes of workers do little business travel – warehouse workers, blue collar manufacturing including construction, retail sales, restaurant and hotel workers, and work that must be done locally, such as health care. Which kind of workers is Spokane left with?

The solution to Spokane’s economic dilemma, as always, is to pour more concrete into favored constituencies, says the 2006 edition of the Airport Journals :

Spokane International Airport (GEG) has become a major aviation hub for Eastern Washington and Western Idaho. Increased airline flights, an expanding aerospace business park and an $82 million capital expansion program in progress have spurred recent growth. By the end of 2008, the capital improvement program is expected to generate a ripple effect in the region, creating 3,246 direct and indirect jobs and infusing $203 million into the area’s economy, according to an airport study.

In fact, the area lost 15,000 to 20,000 jobs since 2008.  Undoubtedly, even with dropping usage, the airport “saved or created” (hence immeasurable) 3,246 direct and indirect jobs. Righto.

Observations

  • In 2005, the SIA marketing director said strong airport growth reflected the strong local economy.
  • In 2005, the Chamber of Commerce (now named Greater Spokane, Inc) president said “current passenger numbers indicate a strong economy”.
  • In 2005, SIA and GSI said Spokane needed more flights to the SF Bay area to boost our local economy.
  • In 2006, same thing.
  • in 2001, same thing.

How will they spin this? They told us in 2005 and 2006 that the airport was a proxy for Spokane’s economic situation.  In 2011, the airport is still a proxy for our local economy and what it says is the local economy has crashed and burned.

Does anyone care?

REMINDER: The airport is a proxy for the local economy. The fall off in flights, non-stop destinations and passengers is primarily a reflection of the local and national economy . The data suggest that Spokane’s economy is doing worse than elsewhere. The data presented do not mean that airport management is (presently) doing a bad job, although their PR spin is amusing.
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Half of Spokane airline flights flown on turbo props

Hydro Quebec Q400

Image by caribb via Flickr

Update: Since this was written, Alaska/Horizon announced it will add 2 additional turbo prop flights to the Spokane-Seattle route.  Alaska did not publicly announce their price hike, but in their reservation system, the price went up.

The airport situation, as you will see in the next post coming after this one, is an important barometer for Spokane. Or may be altimeter would be a better metaphor.

In January 2012, there will be a estimated 51 daily departures from Spokane. (Update: 53 now).

  • 23 25 of those flights will be flown on turbo props (propeller) aircraft (1315 on Alaska to Seattle, 5 on Alaska and 5 on Delta to Portland) like the one shown here.
  • 3 will be flown on smaller CRJ700 or 900 jets to Salt Lake City on Delta.

About half of the flights departing Spokane will be flown on propeller planes.

Doesn’t bother me but the flying public prefers to fly on jets. Turbo props are known for their cramped seating and less leg room.

This is from the NY Times – “Twilight of Turboprops? Passengers Go Out of Their Way to Catch Jets”:

An informal survey by Delta recently found that its passengers hate turboprops so much that most are willing to drive two to five hours to avoid flying in them.

5 hours drive to Seattle anyone?

What that means: The airport is in a spin, as in like a plane that has stalled and spun, headed towards the ground, and not as in PR spin.

REMINDER: The airport is a proxy for the local economy. The fall off in flights, non-stop destinations and passengers is primarily a reflection of the local and national economy . The data suggest that Spokane’s economy is doing worse than elsewhere. The data presented do not mean that airport management is (presently) doing a bad job, although their PR spin is amusing.

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