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

Reader Input: School Choice

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Which of the following would be most effective in reducing the cost of operating a public university in Oregon?


Read more...

Farm in a Box

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Most of the food Americans consume is trucked in from hundreds of miles away. Eric Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Gro-volution, wants to change that. So this past spring, the Air Force veteran and former greenhouse manager started work on an alternative farming system he claims is more efficient than conventional agriculture, and also shortens the distance between the consumer and the farm.


Read more...

Best Foot Forward

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Whether you're stepping out to work or onto the track, Pacific Northwest shoe companies have you covered.


Read more...

Reader Input: Rx for Health Care

July/August 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers how Obamacare has impacted their business.


Read more...

Up on the Roof

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

In 2010 Vanessa Keitges and several investors purchased Portland-based Columbia Green Technologies, a green-roof company. The 13-person firm has a 200% annual growth rate, exports 30% of its product to Canada and received its first infusion of venture capital in 2014 from Yaletown Venture Partners. CEO Keitges, 40, a Southern Oregon native who serves on President Obama’s Export Council, talks about market innovation, scaling small business and why Oregon is falling behind in green-roof construction. 


Read more...

Reader Input: Energy Overload

June 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers to weigh in on the fossil fuel-green energy equation.


Read more...

Loose Talk

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

When gossip crosses the line.


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