Home Back Issues April 2011 Seaport stays airborne after losing Astoria

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

Fork & Bottle

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

National media can’t get enough of Oregon’s pinot noir, artisan-food purveyors and lively, independent film scene.


Read more...

Constant Contact

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

To prevent burnout, companies are banning email and after-hours communications. But is the 24-hour workday here to stay?


Read more...

Video: The 100 Best Survey

News
Thursday, August 28, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1OB Research Editor Kim Moore shares some pointers about the 100 Best Companies to Work For survey.


Read more...

Back to School

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY LEE VAN DER VOO

By now we’ve all read the headlines: Starbucks is giving away free degrees. Except it isn’t.


Read more...

Two Sides of the Coin

Contributed Blogs
Friday, September 26, 2014
0926 iphone6-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

This post focuses on the recent release of the new Apple iPhone as well as Alibaba's IPO, the largest U.S. IPO in history.


Read more...

College Conundrum

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

University and college tuition fees have been rising for more than a decade, while state funds for higher education have steadily declined.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies survey is open

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1How does your workplace stack up against competitors? How can you improve workplace practices to help recruit and retain employees? Find out by taking our 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey!


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