Sign up for our e-newsletter! Fill out the e-newsletter sign-up form here.

The Sky’s The Limit

Post date: May 14, 2024

How the Tri-Cities Airport Attracts New Airlines & Destinations

The Tri-Cities Airport has been buzzing with activity lately. With the addition of American Airlines and new flights to Sonoma (Avelo) and Los Angeles (Alaska Airlines), the airport is taking off in exciting new directions. Have you ever wondered how the airport adds new flights or airlines?

Buck Taft, Executive Director of the Tri-Cities Airport, shed some light on this process. Below, you’ll read his insights on how the airport attracts new airlines and destinations, how these changes impact operations, and what’s in store for future growth.

Air Service Development

One of Buck’s main job is air service development, which involves securing new airlines and flight destinations at the Tri-Cities Airport. The process typically involves working with a consultant to conduct a leakage study about every three years. These studies analyze data from ticket purchases to determine where passengers are traveling, where they are traveling from, the average fare, and potential markets that could benefit from new routes.

By understanding where travelers are coming from and where they want to go, the airport can target specific airlines and hubs that align with the needs of the community. For example, the airport recently added American Airlines, which now offers service to Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. This could pave the way for new flights to Dallas Fort Worthm as it is a hub for American Airlines.

Navigating the Logistics of Growth

As the Tri-Cities Airport continues to grow and seek new destinations, its team must take into consideration space constraints and other logistical hurdles. Buck explains it’s like adding new pieces to a puzzle that already fits together. Every time a new airline or destination is acquired, more pieces are added to the puzzle. Fitting the pieces back together requires significant planning to best serve the passengers, airlines, and airport staff.

The airport is already working to make travel smoother for its customers by expanding parking options. Many other projects are underway behind the scenes to help streamline processes for the airlines and airport staff to better serve passengers. You can check out some of these updates in the Major Terminal Expansion Planned article.

Additionally, the airport must navigate industry-wide issues such as aircraft and pilot shortages. These challenges can impact the frequency and availability of flights, making it crucial for the airport to work closely with airlines to optimize service.

Future Growth and Opportunities

The Tri-Cities Airport has experienced remarkable growth, with a record year in 2023 and a 12% increase in passengers during the first quarter of 2024. This growth is especially notable as the first quarter is traditionally the slowest period for travel at the airport.

The airport's ability to attract travelers from surrounding areas like Yakima, Ellensburg and NE Oregon has contributed to its success. By drawing in passengers from neighboring regions, the Tri-Cities Airport can continue to grow and thrive.

The airport is considering expanding its reach farther, including exploring new markets in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Chicago. These destinations could connect passengers to major hubs, increasing travel options and convenience for the community. Additionally, there is potential to tap into the international travel market, particularly with popular destinations in Mexico.

While the sky is our limit, we are grateful for all the work Buck and the Tri-Cities Airport team have put into expanding its services and options for customers. Understanding the complexities behind identifying viable flight destinations, balancing the challenges that come with growth, and providing the best possible service to customers is a complex job to navigate. We’re excited to see what’s in store for the Tri-Cities Airport. Stay informed by signing up for our e-newsletter!