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

Eco Zoned

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY HANNAH WALLACE

Travelers have always come to Oregon for its natural beauty. But will the increasing popularity of agritourism, European-style hiking getaways and forest resorts relax Oregon's notoriously strict land-use laws?


Read more...

An uncertain future

Guest Blog
Thursday, May 21, 2015
norristhumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

Uncertainty is a part of doing business, whether in through the lens of investment opportunities and risks or the business of running an enterprise.


Read more...

Fixing Oregon’s broken roads

The Latest
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
RUCCostComparison rev4-30BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The technology at the center of Oregon’s road usage fee reform.


Read more...

The 5 highest revenue-generating parks in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, June 11, 2015
parksthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

In 2014, total revenue for camping and day use in Oregon State Parks was a little more than $17 million. That figure may even higher this year "because we've had exceptionally nice weather," Hughes says.


Read more...

The Backstory: Portland Youth Builders

The Latest
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
blog002 1BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

As part of our green workplaces story, Oregon Business checked out a community service project undertaken by Portland Youth Builders, a nonprofit alternative high school. In partnership with Whole Foods, PYB built garden boxes for a Home Forward  housing site. Home Forward is a government agency that provides housing for low income residents and people with disabilities.


Read more...

100 Best Green Workplaces announced

News
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
OBM-100-best-Green-logo-2015-1000pxwBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

More than 250 people turned out today for Oregon Business magazine’s seventh annual celebration of the 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon.


Read more...

The Green Paradox

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY EMILY LIEDEL

Inside the topsy-turvy world of corporate sustainability rankings.


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