Spokane Airport and Felts Field Airport Operations over Time

Read below to learn about a whopper lie being told by local politicians and local media about our local airports …

Historical Passengers Trend at Spokane Airport


Data is from the FAA. 2013 is estimated based on the January-March passenger volume.

Expectation is that SIA will see an increase in passengers this year. Allegiant Air introduced a weekly flight to Hawaii early this year, but shortly after announced that August might be the last flight for the new service, at least for this year. Delta accepted a $1 million mostly taxpayer funded subsidy to provide once per day service to Los Angeles, flying a 79 seat plane starting in June. The new flight will add to the monthly passenger totals for SIA. (Non-subsidized service on this route was ended in 2004 and ended again in 2008.)

Felts Field Historical Air Operations Trend

Felts Field seems to have turned a corner and may have reversed its long term flight operations decline although the data suggests this could be a shift of general aviation operations from SIA to Felts.


Combined Spokane + Felts Field Airports Operations

In April, Spokane Airports sued the FAA over a proposed closure of the Felts Field Air Traffic Control Tower (closure since rescinded). Spokane Airports argued that SIA and Felts Field are a combined operation, listing a combined flight total for both.

Since Spokane Airports views SIA and Felts as a combined operation here is a chart of the combination showing  all flight operations at the two airports – air carrier, air taxi, general aviation and military – keep your eye on the orange section of the chart:


Data is from the FAA and the US Bureau of Transportation  Statistics. Year 2013 flight operations is estimated from Jan-Mar 2013 totals. Does not include Fairchild AFB.

  • Aviation operations have been declining for nearly a quarter of a century – since 1993.
  • Combined air operations have declined by 43% since 1993.
  • And SIA passenger levels are less than they were in 1996.

And this is reported as “continued growth!”…

How did local leaders and news report this decline?

By telling outright lies:

Air traffic and air travel to and from Spokane is in decline and local promoters call this” CONTINUED GROWTH”?

Everything about this is embarrassing for Spokane – the decline itself, lying about the decline, covering it up, and the inability of local media to fact check anything.

More on this lack of ethical behavior on another day.

Why look at passenger and general aviation flight totals?

Passenger counts at isolated airports have historically been used as a proxy for local economic activity. All other Pacific NW airports have seen increases in passenger usage (except Boise). By the numbers (and not wishful fantasy) this suggests Spokane’s economy is weak – certainly not where it could be.

General aviation is used for personal flights, flight training, business flights and other functions including air ambulances and more. Because general aviation flight may be expensive, it too may act as a proxy for local economic strength. However, there are other factors that influence general aviation flight activity and this may not be a reliable indicator.

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