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Airfare increases among biggest

Tue., July 31, 2007

Spokane ranked among the nation’s airports that saw the largest percentage increases in average ticket prices since early 2001, according to federal statistics released last week.

Average first-quarter airfares at Spokane International Airport have decreased slightly since the end of last year. But the average first-quarter price this year was about $342, compared with $316 in first quarter 2001, an 8.2 percent increase, according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics data.

Fewer people have flown on cheap tickets between Seattle and Spokane after Sept. 11, 2001, increasing average prices, said Mark Sixel, an airline industry analyst and president of Sixel Consulting Group Inc. in Eugene.

“So you had a lower proportion of $50 tickets to Seattle, which drove up the average fare overall,” he said.

Also, more business people are traveling farther, necessitating more expensive tickets and contributing to average airfare increases, Sixel said. But he said Spokane prices remain low overall.

“A lot of other cities would die to be in Spokane’s position,” Sixel said.

Nationwide, average first-quarter 2007 prices decreased 0.6 percent from the first quarter of last year. Spokane ranked 73rd of the top 100 airports in plane boardings this year.

Lobbying spending by Avista disclosed

Avista Corp. spent $120,000 in the first half of 2007 to lobby the federal government, according to a disclosure form.

The firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP lobbied on legislation affecting energy and natural resource issues in the Pacific Northwest, according to the form posted online Friday by the Senate’s public records office.

In addition to Congress, the firm also lobbied the Energy Department.

Avista spokesman Hugh Imhof said the fees were in line with the company’s normal lobbying expenditures. Avista has an interest in federal energy legislation and is in the process of obtaining a new license to operate its Spokane River dams.

Under a federal law enacted in 1995, lobbyists are required to disclose activities that could influence members of the executive and legislative branches. They must register with Congress within 45 days of being hired or engaging in lobbying.


Nike settles discrimination suit

Nike has reached a $7.6 million settlement in a class-action race discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of 400 black employees of the company’s Chicago Niketown store, the company said Monday.

The lawsuit, filed in 2003, accused the Nike retail store on Michigan Avenue of discriminating against and harassing its black employees.

The employees claimed the athletic apparel retailer store managers used racial slurs to refer to black workers and customers in the lawsuit. They also said the store segregated black employees into lower-paying jobs as stockroom workers and cashiers rather than giving them lucrative sales jobs. And they alleged managers made unfounded accusations of theft against black workers and directed store security to monitor black employees and customers because of their race.

Nike continues to deny the allegations.

Under the terms of the agreement, Nike Retail Services will pay $7.6 million to the current and former employees to resolve the claims. The suit covers black employees who worked at the store from 1999 to the present.

From staff and wire reports


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