Spokane International Airport saw a small decrease in the number of passengers flying out of the city last year, but the decline may be due to cutbacks by airlines.
Aircraft departures were down 7 percent in 2013, while the seats available on those aircraft fell by 6 percent.
Airlines cut several flights last year. Southwest Airlines dropped service to Portland and Seattle a year ago, leaving a gap that Alaska Airlines has filled, but with smaller aircraft.
Frontier Airlines reduced its flights to Denver from two to one a day. United Airlines cut its service to San Francisco during the second quarter last year.
Higher fuel prices and efforts to gain efficiencies by filling up aircraft are behind the changes, said Todd Woodard, spokesman at Spokane International Airport.
Despite the moves toward efficiency, airlines are still showing eagerness in capturing customer demand in Spokane.
Delta Air Lines is flying to Los Angeles in a new service that started last year and was sought by community leaders for years. The service was made possible through a federal Small Community Air Service Development Grant awarded to the Spokane airport in 2011. The grant provides up to $900,000 in federal aviation funds, which is matched with $200,000 in local funds.
Southwest Airlines introduced summer-season flights to Chicago last year and is expected to resume those flights this summer, Woodard said.
Allegiant Air is now in its second winter season of providing weekly flights to Honolulu.
In addition, charter flights were up by 18 percent.
Overall in 2013, there were 16,555 flights departing from the airport, compared with 17,737 departures in 2012.
Those planes had 1.76 million seats in 2013, compared with 1.87 million seats in 2012.
Even though departures were down, it appears that passengers are squeezing into what is available. Passenger trips out of Spokane last year declined by 2.4 percent compared with the 7 percent decline in flights and 6 percent decline in seats.
There were 1.46 million passengers leaving the airport in 2013, compared with 1.5 million passenger departures in 2012.
The result is that airplanes are increasingly full, Woodard said.
“The loads are up and passenger demand remains quite strong,” Woodard said.
Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air remains the predominant carrier group in Spokane. In picking up the gap left when Southwest pulled its service to Portland and Seattle, Alaska reported a 7.5 percent increase in passenger departures.
It had 584,000 passengers leaving Spokane last year, compared with 543,000 in 2012.
Southwest, the city’s second-largest carrier, went from 396,000 passenger departures in 2012 to 367,000 last year, a drop of 17 percent.
Southwest was using Boeing 737 aircraft. Alaska Airlines/Horizon uses the Bombardier Q-400, which has about half as many seats.
Pothole crews out, about
During the recent period of dry weather, Spokane city crews were out filling potholes.
The city reminds residents to report potholes so the city can fill them as soon as the current round of snow and ice clears.
You can report potholes at myspokane.spokanecity.org/mobile or by calling (509) 625-7733. Include as much information as possible on the location and size of the pothole.
The larger the pothole, the sooner it will be filled, they said.
Francis lane closures
The Washington state Department of Transportation is reminding drivers westbound on Francis Avenue at Freya Street to be careful when approaching the North Spokane Corridor construction zone. Westbound traffic is being funneled into a single lane from Freya to Market Street.
Single lanes are open in all four directions at Market and Freya, and left turns are prohibited in the current configuration.
Full construction resumes in the spring.