Seaport stays airborne after losing Astoria

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011

 

0411_Seaport
Seaport is adding service between Portland and Salem, and expanding its business outside of Oregon.

Seaport Airlines president Rob McKinney has a lot to think about these days.

In spite of the recent cancellation of Seaport’s mostly empty daily flights between Portland and Astoria, the Portland-based airline is growing rapidly — mostly outside of Oregon. It has expanded from two states to seven in two and a half years, with 115 daily flights, and recently announced plans to begin twice-daily service between Portland and Salem. The business employs about 200 people nationally including 65 pilots who specialize in short flights that avoid the hassle of Transportation Security Administration screening.

But much of Seaport’s growth has come from subsidies that belt-tightening politicians may choose to end given widespread concerns about government spending. Seaport flies subsidized “essential air services” routes to small towns in Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri and is on the verge of moving into Texas as well. McKinney says he “couldn’t imagine them ending [essential air service subsidies] tomorrow,” but he acknowledges that “any federal program is in jeopardy” in the current political climate.

Seaport flies just one essential air service flight in Oregon, to Pendleton. The company’s Astoria and Newport flights were supported by a two-year state subsidy from ConnectOregon that ran out in March. Passenger counts justified continuing the service in Newport, but not in Astoria. McKinney says canceling the Astoria service was “emotionally hard for us as an Oregon company,” but “not financially devastating.” The move resulted in five layoffs.

Given that backdrop, Seaport is moving to diversify again. The company was formed in June 2008 with backing from Oregon angel investors to provide quick and easy business flights between Portland and Seattle. But a steep drop in travel budgets during the recession forced the company to shift into subsidized rural service.

Now that governments are cutting back, the airline is considering adding new flights that do not rely on subsidies, including possible moves into larger urban markets such as Dallas, Phoenix and San Diego.

McKinney says the daily flights between Portland and Salem would be TSA-free and unsubsidized, similar to Seaport’s flights in Alaska and between Portland and Seattle. The flights would restore commercial service to an airport currently used only for general aviation and the Oregon Air National Guard.

BEN JACKLET
 

More Articles

A legislative preview — and celebration

News
Friday, January 23, 2015
012315-speaker-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The Northwest Environmental Business Council previews the 2015 legislative agenda as Hatch Oregon celebrates Oregon's new community crowdfunding rules.


Read more...

Corner Office: Timothy Mitchell

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

A look-in on the life of Norris & Stevens' president, plus an abridged Powerlist for the best commercial real estate firms.


Read more...

Crowdfunding 2.0

News
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
120214-crowdfund-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with attorney Erich Merrill about the latest way to raise money from large groups of people.


Read more...

Legislative Preview: A Shifting Balance

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER

Democratic gains pave the way for a revival of environment and labor bills as revenue reform languishes.


Read more...

The city as startup

Guest Blog
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
011415 citystartup-thumbBY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Startups in the growth phase are associated with a fresh infusion of capital — human and financial — a curiosity factor and products to disrupt the market and drive demand. Portland’s economy gives off the same aroma.


Read more...

Will Medford Ever Be Cool?

February 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY DAN COOK | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A real-estate developer and a Lithia Motors executive aim to revamp the city's forlorn downtown.


Read more...

5 companies react to lower fuel prices

The Latest
Thursday, January 15, 2015
thumb-shutterstock 233787049BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Consumers love the savings they get from low oil prices, but how has business been affected?


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS