By Ben Jacklet
Portland-based Seaport Airlines plans to begin running daily flights between Portland and Salem this spring for business and political travelers.
Seaport President Rob McKinney says the service will probably begin with two daily flights, and will be completely unsubsidized.
Seaport recently canceled its daily flights between Portland and Astoria after a state subsidy expired and passenger numbers came in lower than expected. The company specializes in federally subsidized “essential air service” flights to small cities, non-subsidized flights in Southeast Alaska and business flights between Portland and Seattle that allow travelers to avoid time-consuming security checks by the TSA. Over two and a half years of operation, Seaport has grown rapidly to 200 employees and 115 daily flights in seven states, McKinney says.
Seaport's flights to Salem would be similar to the flights between Portland and Seattle in that customers would not need to interact with the TSA before boarding. Seaport is able to avoid that step because it manages its own private terminals.
Salem’s 751-acre airport currently has no commercial flights and is only used for the Oregon National Guard support and general aviation. The city’s urban development department recently named Mark Jucht as the new airport manager with a goal to expand services.
McKinney says Seaport hopes to begin flying to Seaport within the next few months. “We’re shooting for the third or fourth week in April,” he says.
Ben Jacklet is managing editor of Oregon Business.