Delta adding 4 flights on the Seattle-Spokane route

This is good news – Delta adding four Spokane flights to Seattle

Hopefully the long term decline in air travel to/from Spokane can be turned around. The following charts are generally months to 2 years old and have not been updated since their creation.  In a broad brush sense, the charts are still close to today’s operations. See notes, below.

The majority of flights from Spokane are to Seattle, Portland and Denver. Since this chart was made, the number of Denver flights has gone down a bit. After Southwest dropped out of the Spokane-Seattle market, the number of flights fell to 16 but will rise again to 20, this fall, with the addition of the Delta flights.

spokaneairportcolumnsNext chart correct through 2012. Has not been updated since.

AirportFlightsTrendIn the following chart, two additional non-stop destinations have resumed service – a government subsidized daily flight to Los Angeles and a once per week flight to Hawaii, although that may be going away.   This chart shows only year round destinations so the seasonal Hawaii flight would not be included anyway.


CombinedSIAFeltsAllOps-3Since the beginning of the year, there has been a slight increase in passengers versus last year. An update to this chart would show a slight upward curve at the end.


New online game – spot the Spokane Convention Center expansion bump in local employment!

The Spokane Convention Center is building its 3rd expansion since the year 2000.

They promised us more jobs – can you spot the jobs increase in the City of Spokane?

Total jobs in the City of Spokane are now less than in 1996  (data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics):LAUCT536700000000005_742370_1398301192417

Good thing Spokane has such a booming economy with huge job growth typical of the State!  Oh wait, its once fast growing job market collapsed and has since flat lined.

Of course, they also promised more jobs and more visitors. Surely this shows up in the hotel industry employment, as a great proxy for visitors to Spokane? After all 54% of all money spent by convention center visitors, they say, goes to the hotel industry.

Hospitality (hotels) industry employment in the City of Spokane since 1993 (data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics):


Just eyeballing the chart the low point is about the high point in 1997. Hmmmm.

Well, at least they have increasing attendance at the PFD facilities, thanks to all those expansion projects!

The Spokesman-Review says the PFD is awesome and doing fantastic!  And we all know everything the Spokesman-Review publishes is highly accurate, never spun as a propaganda – of course!


Okay, so all those visitors are not hiding out at the Convention Center. Where could they possibly be?

They said expansion would produce more visitors so the airport surely shows lots more passengers?

SIA Jun 2013


Sure is a mystery to us. They promised more jobs and more visitors. They must be hiding here somewhere. May be selling prostitution on East Sprague or door-to-door meth sales?

They could not possibly have lied to us, could they? Could they? …

I know, let’s build a Spokane Field House downtown because that will surely increase visitors and jobs! Then add a heated pedestrian/bike bridge. But why stop there? Let’s build a downtown trolley! And then light rail to the airport! 

But whatever we do, don’t let the Spokane Indians build a casino/shopping/entertainment/convention center complex because the Spokane area doesn’t need more jobs. And besides, it would compete with the downtown business cartel. Oops. We were not supposed to say that.

Related: All those self promotion programs to attract tourists dollars  look to be a fraud too.

Keywords: Bloomsday Run, Lilac Festival, Parade, Marching Bands, Floats, Walk

Spokane Area Airport Operations Update

Spokane “International” Airport passengers per year. 2013 data through November and pro-rated to end of 2013. Data comes from SIA. Current passenger usage at SIA is about the same as in 1995.

Update in March: Passengers totals increased year over year for December and January which might finally signal the beginning of a turn around in airport usage. This is not reflected in these charts.


Next chart compares year over year – 2013 is the bottom light blue color. Chart comes from SIA web site.


Table showing the changes in passenger counts by carrier.  Frontier, Southwest and United have seen large percentage drops year over year. Table comes from SIA November report.  Official response from SIA is that “passenger demand remains strong” (huh?)


Data for Felts Field operations comes from the FAA. Chart title is incorrect – this is through Nov 2013 pro-rated to end of 2013.


Next chart shows combined all operations at SIA and Felts Field, over time since 1990. Data is from the FAA and the US Bureau of Transportation  Statistics. Does not include Fairchild AFB operations.


Spokane Airport Operations

Data through April 2013, with the trend extended to end of 2013. This trend line is extended to the end of the year because the chart shows annual totals – therefore 2013 must be estimated.


2013Apr-FeltsFieldWe look at airport passenger data as a rough proxy for the state of the local economy. The data is not a reflection on the airport management or staff (the airport is well run).

Casino had no impact on Air Force tanker decision

From Daniel Walters at the comes this report:

Some continued to speculate about encroachment issues. “It would be very helpful to know whether the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino figured in the decision, if only to put the issue to rest for good,” the Spokesman-Review wrote in an editorial last week.

The answer is: No, the casino didn’t come into play.

“The proposed multi-use facility near Fairchild AFB was not considered in the decision process,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek says in a statement. While the Air Force assessed existing encroachment at Fairchild — like the mobile home park in the base’s crash zone — it was never a “key finding or a major consideration.” In fact, in the initial criteria used to select candidates for the tankers, encroachment was worth only a measly two points out of 100.

via Flight Diverted.

The Inlander provides journalism you will not find anywhere else in Spokane. Check them out.

The casino and encroachment argument  appears to have been about reducing competition for the Northern Quest Casino and the Downtown Business Partnership, as many suggested. Go here and page down to “The Proposed Spokane Tribe Casino, Hotel and Convention Facility” to better understand how the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino is a competitive threat to NQC and downtown Spokane.

McConnell, Altus AFB and Pease ANG Base selected for new KC-46A tanker roles

Fairchild loses bid to host new tankers – – May 22, 2013.

Fairchild lost out to McConnell AFB in Kansas, Altus AFB in Oklahoma, and Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire (in 2018) according to the Kansas news reports. Three of the four bases were selected for tankers and/or training facilities, with Spokane’s Fairchild and North Dakota’s AFB as the only bases receiving no part of the KC-46A program at this time.

Update: US Air Force press release. Says McConnell had the lowest construction costs for deploying the new tankers. And also the best geographic location for the mission.

(Pease AFB was closed in 1991 and now houses an air guard refueling unit. After the USAF closed there, the State proposed building a casino on the site.)

Depending on future funding, additional tanker bases, including Fairchild AFB, could be selected in the years to come.

The proposed Airway Heights casino is not mentioned in any of the news reports as having anything to do with site selection (USAF will explain their decision later).  Is the casino a factor? Consider that the Las Vegas McCarran Field airport is the 8th busiest airport in the world in terms of take offs and landings and sits immediately adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip, the largest concentration of casinos in the world.  That did not stop Las Vegas from expanding either the airport or casinos.

Per the next post below, Spokane area aviation has been in a descent since its peak year of 1993.

1993 is also the year that Rich Hadley was hired as CEO of the local Chamber of Commerce, which later merged with the local economic development agency and became Greater Spokane, Inc.

In the early 1990s, the city was concerned about losing retail business in the downtown core, businesses moving out of the area, and there were fears about the possible closure of Fairchild AFB.  Nothing’s changed in 20 years. Except that aviation operations have plummeted and wages have fallen further behind over time (see how average wages lag the state and nation and see this chart of average wages).

Surely it is purely coincidental, but the aviation numbers have been in decline ever since Hadley was hired. With this spectacular flame out, perhaps it is time for Hadley to retire and for the agency to seek new blood with a 21st century mindset with fresh, new ideas, and not just more of the same that has not worked out so well. (Well said).

Looks like Fairchild AFB will not be “encroached” by KC-46As!

And what ever happened to the 737MAX Assembly plant “formal bid” that was to be in Spokane?

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.