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Airport sees more commercial traffic

The number of commercial aircraft landings in Spokane grew by 3 percent for the first six months of 2007. But it’s expected to hit 5 percent by year’s end, according to traffic data for 2007.

From January to the end of June this year, Spokane’s airport saw 49,494 commercial landings. One year earlier, the number was 48,094.

Deputy Airport Manager Mark Jucht said the addition of seven daily ExpressJet nonstops between Spokane and California cities will boost the final 2007 numbers. ExpressJet introduced air service this summer to Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento.

Horizon Air’s expanded Spokane operations will also increase the 2007 bottom line. This summer Horizon also added nonstops to Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego.

For the first six months of 2007, Spokane’s landing fee revenue came to $1.58 million paid by air carriers. That’s 3.6 percent above the $1.53 million paid in the same period of 2006, said Jucht.

“That’s not a very big increase and we didn’t expect one,” said Jucht. Airlines flying in and out of Spokane estimated essentially a “flat” year for 2007 rather than an increase in flights, said Jucht. Across the airline industry, carriers are offering the same number of flights as before but trying to fly larger planes or ones that fly more efficiently.

The landing fee revenue is a small portion of the total revenue Spokane’s airport collects from users and aircraft operators. Landing fees are used to pay for the maintenance or expansion of the airport’s buildings, runways, aprons and taxiways.

All airports charge their own set rates for landings of commercial aircraft. Spokane last increased its landing fees in 2005 and kept them at $1.28 per 1,000 pounds of gross landing weight, according to Jucht. That gross weight looks at the aircraft’s typical maximum landing weight, which excludes numbers of passengers onboard.

Spokane’s pricing philosophy is to keep landing fees low and expect to generate more revenue on volume, said Jucht.

Airport landing fees vary somewhat across the board. Spokane charges roughly one-fourth what Sea-Tac Airport does, Jucht said. They’re very similar, he added, to those at Boise’s airport. “We see ourselves as pretty similar in size and scope to Boise for fees,” he said.


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