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Spokane airport and Goldilocks

Do you find SIA to be too big, too small or just right?

Associated Painters finishes work on second hangar at Spokane airport

Painting airliners is an expanding business at Spokane-based Associated Painters.

The company, which has been at Spokane International Airport for four years, has just completed work on its second painting hangar.

It's the left building in the photo above.

The expansion will allow the Spokane workforce to grow to 110 employees by next summer, up from 70 today.

 The 32,000-square-foot hangar cost roughly $6 million to build. It has one large bay capable of handling a Boeing 757-300 sized aircraft or similar narrow-body planes.

 Associated Painters owns the building and has a 30-year land lease with Spokane airports. It should reach full capacity within two years, a company news release said.

Seattle is still most popular airline destination from Spokane’s airport

So Delta Airlines in Novermber is adding four daily flights from Spokane to Seattle.

Here's the story version:

Delta Air Lines will add four daily flights to Seattle from Spokane starting Nov. 3.

At present only Alaska Airlines flies to and from Seattle from Spokane. In January 2012 Southwest Airlines stopped providing service between the two cities.

The daily flights from Spokane are scheduled to leave at 8:25 a.m., 10 a.m., 3:35 p.m. and 7:05 p.m. Return flights leave Sea-Tac International Airport at 6:50 a.m., 10 a.m., 1:35 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The flights between Seattle and Spokane will use Bombardier 65-seat CRJ-700 aircraft.

Delta is also adding Seattle to Bozeman flights starting Dec. 20.

In recent years Seattle has been the most frequent destination for Spokane passengers, according to federal transportation

numbers. The next four most frequent connections are Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland and Denver.

 

Here are the latest data from the Federal Aviation Administration for total passengers from Spokane, based on 2013 flights:

The number shows total ticketed passengers leaving Spokane, by volume:

 

1 Seattle/Tacoma  180,146
2 Las Vegas             88,508
3 Phoenix                76,909
4 Portland                74,170
5 Denver                 64,169 
  

 

Sen. Murray lauded by airport execs for requiring TSA to safeguard exit lanes

Spokane International Airport is saluting Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) for her commitment to keeping the TSA responsible for manning exit lane security at all major airports.

Over recent months the TSA, a part of Homeland Security, had been pushing to change its responsibility, getting airports to cover the exit-lane security costs. It said the cuts were needed because of budget contraints.

But Murray didn't let that happen. While brokering the Senate's approval of a new budget passed Wednesday, she made sure it required the TSA to monitor exit lanes at the 154 major commercial airports in the U.S.

Spokane's airport directors opposed the TSA request, saying the change would have “resulted in significant costs increases for airports, introduced untold liabilities and would have blurred the roles of TSA and airports for carrying out a national security function that has been assigned to the TSA by Congress since the creation of the agency in 2001.”

Larry Krauter, Spokane airport CEO, issued a statement Wednesday saying: “In this case, not only did (Sen. Murray) help commercial service airports in the state of Washington, but also airports across the country.  We are convinced that Sen. Murray’s actions averted serious negative consequences for the security of our national air transportation system.”

Spokane County loss on land deal finalized

Spokane County’s loss of more than $1 million in a land deal with the Spokane International Airport was completed Monday by the Spokane City Council.

In 2008, the county paid $3.2 million for nearly 400 acres between the airport and Fairchild Air Force Base to relocate a rail line that crossed the base and protect the base from encroaching development. County commissioners agreed to sell the land to the airport late last month for $1.75 million.

The Spokane City Council, which along with the Spokane County Commission must approve major airport financial decisions, unanimously approved the deal on Monday. The airport’s ownership is shared by the city and county.

Should Allegiant Air passengers have a right to not receive union literature?

Updated at 1:28 p.m. Feb. 12

Updated to include a statement by Allegiant Air on the issue of new routes and possible cancellation of routes:

Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler emailed this comment regarding the issue that the TWU cited for the flyers handed out:

Many of the routes in our system have never been flown before - we have no historical data to look to and forecast demand and costs based on available data.  Allegiant is making every effort to bring new service to underserved communities at affordable prices and in this case, new visitors to the Hawaiian islands, visitors who have never had access to nonstop service to Hawaii before. We do not go into a market unless we believe we will be successful there, but some routes do not work out the way we anticipate.  The vast majority of our new routes are successful.

Is there a guaranteed right of free speech aboard a commercial airliner?

That question was raised last weekend during the first Allegiant Air flight from Spokane's airport to Hawaii.

Last weekend, the TWU sent a representative aboard the first flight, and once on board, the union rep handed out leaflets to passengers

In December Allegiant's flight attendants voted to be represented by a local of the Transport Workers Union. This first-flight event occurred as Allegiant and the union are hammering out their first-ever contract for flight attendants.

 The flyer handed out is what you see here.

The issue isn't union representation. A press release, posted at this link, includes information about the company’s record of abrupt cancellation of service to “underperforming” markets. The leaflet leaves the impression Allegiant dumps its service to some markets without a lot of advance notice. We're not sure how accurate that is.

There were no incidents on the flight, according to reports. A sheriff's deputy, however, interviewed the union worker in Honolulu when the flight arrived. After 10 minutes, the union worker left, having established no disruptions occurred during the flight.

So here's the nub:  If you're in a restaurant with your best friend, is it OK if union workers drop by your table and ask you to sign a petiion against the owner of the business? Or pass out material suggesting the owner is mistreating employees?

Restaurants are public or semi-public locations. An airplane may not be the same kind of workplace.

Or, is free speech basically free speech, provided it doesn't inflame or injure anyone?

Which way should the law tilt?

Southwest gives up Spokane-Portland flights starting in January

Southwest Airlines will shut down its Spokane to Portland flights in January, the airline announced.

The decision follows Southwest’s move to drop service to Seattle at the start of this year.

Southwest flies two flights to and from Portland daily.

In terms of total passengers, Portland is the second most-frequent destination from Spokane, according to federal transportation numbers.

Seattle ranks ahead of Portland.

With six flights daily, Alaska Airlines flies more passengers to and from Portland than Southwest does, the data show.

For a full description of the impact, go to this story on Spokesman.com.

Allegiant dropping flights to LA from Billings and Pasco

Allegiant Air, based in Las Vegas, is already shuffling some of its small-city routes.

An Associated Press story today noted that Allegiant is cancelling flights between Sioux Falls, S.D., and LA, citing lack of space at LA International Airprot.

Also being shut down are Allegiant flights to LA from Billings and Pasco.

An Allegiant spokesman said the airline lacks adequate gate and ticket counters at LAX.

The low-cost airline announced this week it's launching flights in January between Spokane and Honolulu.

$180 fares by Allegiant are low indeed, until the other fees and options kick in

So we decided to look more closely at how Allegiant Air makes its money while being a low-fare airline.

It's all in the details.

SR staffer Rich Landers jumped on Allegiant.com and looked at the actual costs for a round trip to Honolulu in February.  Here's his take:

The advertised price was $179 one-way. Which is significantly lower than other carriers to that destination.

Here's his summary of the final bill:

Despite a low advertised fare, costs add up quickly when booking fares … from Spokane to Hawaii. Here are the costs for two people, round-trip.

— The round trip fare for TWO people comes out to $655.20. Taxes and fees total $116.80.

—A seat selection fee of about $21 is charged if you want to select a seat in advance to be assured you can sit with your partner or family.  Total roundtrip cost for two: $82. (Seats coming back were $20 each, instead of the $21 going to Hawaii.)

—The airline gives a range of costs for carry-on bags.  The only choice you have for the Spokane-Honolulu flight is $50 for a carry-on bag that can't exceed 25 pounds, limited to 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches. It does not say round trip, but I assume it is: Total for two: $100.

—If you need to check a bag, the cost is a minimum of $70.   Let's say you can do without it.  $0 added cost.

That makes the total roundtrip price for two: $954, or $938 if you pay with a debit card.
That's still better than the current advertised price on competing airlines that require a stop between Spokane and Honolulu, but it's a long shot from the advertized special of $180 that caught my eye. 

For contrast, OfficeHours ran a booking test on Alaska Air via Priceline and came up with two round trips coming to about $1,290.  So yeah, there are some advantages with Allegiant.

We got an explanation on those seat and luggage fees from Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler:

We charge a fee to choose your seat assignment – each seat has a different value based on demand for the seat. If you do not purchase a seat assignment you will be randomly assigned a seat at check-in.

Carry-on and checked baggage fees vary by route. Hawaii routes are most expensive because it is our longest flight. For many of our optional products the cost to customer vary by airport and route, a reflection of how our costs vary. The less it cost us, the less our customers


  

Allegiant comes to Spokane, but you might want to read the fine print

So it's now official that Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air will start flying weekly flights from Spokane to Oahu.

The story appeared on Spokesman.com earlier today. Some notable and not well-known facts about low-fare Allegiant. It flies into and out of 80 cities, including Bellingham, Wash. Which tells you how competive Allegiant has to be, if they choose to set up flights in and out of places like Missoula and Bellingham. 

Also notable is some of its operating philosophy.  It chooses about a dozen destination locations and then forms routes from smaller cities to those destinations. Yes, Allegiant.com lists Bellingham as a little gem of a getaway.

Here's another key part of their approach:  The airline uses the Ryanair model of looking for secondary revenue through sales of food, beverages, and souvenirs on board as well as charges for checking luggage and advance seat assignments.   Which means, the current discount rate of $180 one-way to Oahu doesn't stay that low when you start adding in other costs, like luggage. The St. Petersburg Times reported that the airline's average “extra”  revenues came to $33.35 per passenger in 2011.

And a Wikipedia entry added this nugget of insight: “Allegiant CEO Maurice Gallagher stated in an article that appeared September 2009 issue of Fast Company that the advantages of this pricing structure was psychological. He went on to say, 'We collect $110 from you at the end of your trip. If I tried to charge you $110 up front, you wouldn't pay it. But if I sell you a $75 ticket and you self-select the rest, you will.' ”

TSA settles lawsuit from prosecutor

The Transportation Security Administration has paid Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen $225,000 for medical bills resulting from a fall in 2008 during an airport screening.

Rasmussen, who walked with a cane following childhood polio, filed a lawsuit seeking $1 million in 2010 following an incident on April 4, 2008, at the Spokane International Airport. As he was being screened, Rasmussen alleged that he was told to sit but didn’t know a chair had been pulled away. As a result he fell, causing back and hip injuries.

Rasmussen said government attorneys disputed the hip injuries but agreed the fall caused back injuries, which in turn required surgery. Since the fall, Rasmussen often now relies on wheelchair for mobility, he said.

The case went to mediation and an agreement was reached in May, but order for negotiated dismissal wasn’t entered until this week.
  

Assault suspect jailed on $1 mil. bond

An assault suspect charged in connection with a murder at a Spokane motel in November has been jailed on $1 million bond after police caught him returning from an out-of-state flight.

Stafone N. “Stix” Fuentes, 27, (pictured) is prohibited from traveling out of state under conditions imposed by a judge who approved a $250,000 bail after his arrest Feb. 1. Fuentes posted that bond Feb. 29.

The Spokane gang team arrested him Thursday at the Spokane International Airport as he returned from Las Vegas on a late-night flight.

Fuentes could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of second-degree assault for a wild fight Nov. 27 fight at the Quality Inn, 110 E. Third Ave., which led to the shooting death of aspiring rapper Jose J. “Junior” Solis, 21, of Moses Lake.

Another aspiring rapper, John A. “Lil Danger” Castro, 27, (pictured) was arrested just after the homicide and remains in jail on a second-degree murder charge. Castro faces life in prison if convicted under the state's three-strikes law because of his criminal history.

Fuentes' lengthy criminal history includes two convictions for strikes: second-degree assault and first-degree robbery. He also has been convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm.

He was jailed briefly last summer after news of his uncle’s murder outside a rap concert in Montana revealed to his probation officer that he’d left the state without permission.

Feds: Pilot lands in Spokane while drunk

A commercial pilot was drunk when he landed a plane at the Spokane International Airport in April, federal prosecutors allege.

Paul Robbin Roessler, of Federal Way, is to appear in U.S. District Court in Spokane June 29 for a charge operating a common carrier under the influence of alcohol, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

The charge alleges Roessler flew a twin engine PA-34 aircraft for Airpac Airlines, Inc., from Boeing Field in Seattle to the Spokane airport while drunk on April 26.

A federal grand jury indicted him last week. Airport spokesman Todd Woodward directed questions to the U.S. Attorney's Office, which has not immediately returned a phone call.

Federal aviation records say Roessler was a certified commercial pilot and flight instructor but that his certificates are no longer active.

A man who answered the phone for Airpac Airlines identified himself as Roger and declined comment. The company is described on its website as a a contract cargo operator based out of Boeing Field since 1976.
  

Just wondering

Never mind being realistic.

Pay no attention to market sustainability or seats-filling logic.

This is just making a wish.

If you could wave your magic wand and create a daily nonstop flight from Spokane to any city in the U.S. or Canada, what destination city would you choose?  

Remembering the airport bear, pre-9/11

“Yes, I, too, miss the giant polar bear,” wrote Joan Williams. “Another thing I miss is standing by the windows and getting to watch the planes depart and arrive.

“Way back, when I was a single mom of six little ones, my oldest son (who was 8-9) loved airplanes. Since I had little (read “none”) money for entertaining the kids, I searched out free places we could go. One of those was the airport. We'd pretend we were on a big adventure.

“The kids were in awe of the conical-shaped building with its high pointy ceiling. Then we'd walk up the big ramps to all the windows. They'd get so excited when they spotted a plane coming in. And, of course, the littlest ones were afraid to approach the huge, white bear. It's a shame we've lost those opportunities.”

Tips sought on missing carry-on bag

Spokane International Airport police are seeking information regarding the identity of a woman in connection with a missing carry-on bag.

The pictured woman is not a suspect at this time, said Todd Woodard, director of public relations, and she could have picked up the bag by accident.

However, airport police would like to question her about the bag, which was reported missing by a customer about 10:30 p.m. Nov. 26.

Anyone with information regarding the identity of the woman shown in the photo is asked to contact the Airport Police Department at 455-6429.

Last month, police arrested three people on suspicion of stealing seven bags from the baggage claim area. Woodard said baggage theft is rare and that it was the first case in at least 10 years. 

Upgraded Airport Runway Opens

The main runway at Spokane International Airport reopened to regular airline service on Saturday after being closed for a major upgrade in recent months. More than 100 workers moved dirt and poured concrete to raise the northeast end of the runway by about 5 feet. The job improves the line of sight for pilots taking off or landing. “It is a safety improvement,” said Todd Woodard, airport spokesman. The $30 million project was part of nearly $93.4 million in runway and apron improvements over the past several years, including extending the main runway to 11,000 feet. The changes put Spokane in line to draw new cargo operations and allow airlines to operate more efficiently during the heat of the summer/Mike Prager, SR. More here. (Dan Pelle SR photo: Jacqui Halvorson, left, and David Brukardt snap photos of Stearman aircraft Saturday)

Our airport: Pros and cons

www.visitspokane.com

Pro: It's not a dehumanizing labyrinth.

Con: The number of cities served by nonstop flights from here is quite limited. (Though that's more a reflection of our modest population and remote geography than it is a valid criticism of the airport.)

Pro: Most of the employees.

Con: A few of the employees.

Pro: The parking meters. (Sure, they devour quarters. But it is a stunning convenience.)

Con: The way people here crowd up next to the baggage carrousels. (Though, again, is that really the fault of the airport? Maybe they could post signs that more sharply rebuke those afflicted with this moronic tendency.)

Pro: You don't really have to fight hellacious traffic on the way there, so you're not all stressed out before you even arrive at the airport.

Con: Some of us miss the polar bear. 

Airport dropping some fees

Airline passengers annoyed by add-on fees will be pleased that Spokane International Airport is listening.

Passenger surveys in recent years have shown that people who fly, many of whom are business travelers, want free wireless access at the airport.

Starting today, laptop users will get 20 minutes of wireless Internet before fees kick in.MIke Prager, SR  Read more.

What other changes would you like to see at Spokane International Airport?

Spokane airport offers free Wi-Fi, luggage carts

Spokane International Airport said today that it will offer travelers 20 minutes of free Wi-Fi inside the terminal and free luggage carts, both in response to customer demand.

Lawrence Krauter, airport CEO, said in a news release that the airport's Wi-Fi access fee has been “another source of aggravation to our customers” who are already steamed over airplane pricing models and declines in customer service.

The change in Wi-Fi access will take effect on Aug. 22, the release said. Luggage carts will be available for use at no charge in early September.

FAA fight could create INW problems

Inland Northwest airports may have major construction projects knocked off track by a congressional fight over the Federal Aviation Administration.

A $3.3 million grant to finish the major runway reconstruction at Spokane International Airport and a nearly $1 million grant for a building at Coeur d’Alene airport are in the bill that is stalled because of disagreements between House Republicans and Senate Democrats.

The grants aren’t part of the dispute, which primarily involves subsidies to rural airports and collective bargaining rights. But until the bill passes, the money can’t be released and many FAA workers other than air traffic controllers are on furlough…

To read more of this story, go inside the blog.
  

FAA fight felt in Spokane, CdA

The fight between House Republicans and Senate Democrats over Federal Aviation Administration is being felt at Inland Northwest airports.

Spokane International Airport is worried about a $3.3 million grant to finish its runway enhancement, and getting the new instrumentation calibrated by the FAA, because the folks that do the calibrating are on furlough.

Coeur d'Alene Airport is worried about a nearly $1 million grant to build a structure for its Air Rescue and Firefighting vehicle.

The grants and funding for FAA employees are on hold because the bill is stalled, and Congress isn't due back until Sept. 7.

We'll have more on this story in Thursday's print and online editions.

Spokane council finalizes massive annexation

Spokane city boundaries will expand by nearly 10 square miles on Jan. 1.

The Spokane City Council on Monday unanimously approved the city’s West Plains annexation, which includes the Spokane International Airport. Monday’s vote was largely a formality. The city, Spokane County and Airway Heights negotiated the annexation deal and gave preliminary approval to the expansion in 2009.

Airway Heights will grow by about a half-square mile next year. The land includes the sales-tax rich Walmart and was long claimed by Spokane.

Although it has no say over the annexations, the State Boundary Review Board for Spokane County will hold an informational meeting about the city expansions at 3 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Spokane County Public Works Building, 1026 W. Broadway Ave.

The annexations are the first in the state to move forward under a state law that allows cities to annex land by negotiating with county and other affected governments. Under the law, the review board has no say over the boundary changes.

Airport master plan open house Tuesday

Spokane International Airport will unveil its master plan Tuesday at a three-hour open house that begins at 4 p.m. in the Double Tree Hotel, Spokane City Center.

 

Airport officials and consultants will be on hand to explain displays, maps and other information on short-, medium-, and long-terms plans that take development at the 5,400-acre West Plains site and associated structures out 30 years.

 

Passenger traffic is expected to double from three million in 2010 to six million by 2030. The plan considers how the airport will manage more passengers traveling longer distances, the timeline for new development, and potential funding sources.

 

The information will also be posted online at www.spokaneairports.net
 
Validated parking will be available at the Spokane Convention Center Garage. A second open house is scheduled for Aug. 9. A venue has not been selected.

W. Plains/Spokane-I transportation study draft available

The draft version of the West Plains Spokane International Airport transportation study, that looks at continued development of the business park and the effects that will have on the roads out there, was released this morning.

There's a month left to comment on it. Want to see what it has to say, maybe add your 2 cents? Click here to go to the online version of the study.

Former Spokane airport official named new Salem airport manager

SALEM, Ore. — A former deputy director at Spokane International Airport has been named the new Salem airport manager in Oregon.

The Statesman Journal reports the city of Salem’s Urban Development Department recently named Mark Jucht the new airport manager.

Salem’s 751-acre airport serves general-aviation aircraft and the Oregon Army National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility.

Jucht is responsible for coordinating and maintaining the development and growth of the Salem Municipal Airport as well as managing day-to-day operations.

Spokane Airport tower renamed after WWII Vet

World War II veteran Ray Daves

Here’s a local development that illustrates the power of a book: On Dec. 22, the tower at Spokane International Airport was officially named the Ray Daves Air Traffic Control Tower.

And it all came about because of the 2008 book “Radioman: An Eyewitness Account of Pearl Harbor and World War II in the Pacific” (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press) by Carol Hipperson, a Spokane author.

“Radioman” is about Ray Daves, a local Pearl Harbor survivor. His story resonated with the air traffic controllers at the airport, who started a drive to name the tower after their fellow radioman.

It wasn’t easy. In fact, it took an act of Congress. But they persevered, and the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate came on board. On Dec. 22, President Obama signed a bill officially naming the tower after Daves.

And on Feb. 25, Daves and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who sponsored the legislation, will be at the tower for a dedication ceremony.

“It’s about the power of a book,” said Hipperson. “You could even refer to it as a ‘concrete example.’” Jim Kershner, Spotlight

Can't tell you how happy this makes me I've written about Ray here and here. He is a sweet and humble man and I'm glad he is here to see this honor.


Don't you think we should honor the heroes among while they're still with us?

Spokane International Airport traffic increases

Spokane International Airport handled almost 3.2 million passengers last year, an increase of 4 percent from 2009, which had the lowest total since 2004.

December traffic also rose about 4 percent, to 137,820.

Freight and mail rose more than 10 percent for the month, to 5.4 million tons, and 1.76 percent for the year, to 46,863 tons.

At Felts Field, operations fell 5 percent for the year, to 63,496, and 38.3 percent for December, to 2,372. But freight tonnage was up for the month, to 36.6 percent to 3.6 tons, and for the year, 8.1 percent to 44.7 tons.

Stevens Co. prosecutor suing U.S. gov

Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen is suing the federal government, alleging he was injured during security screening at the Spokane International Airport more than two years ago.

Rasmussen, who walks with canes, said he fell on the floor and injured his back and tailbone when Transportation Security Administration officials moved his canes and chair without telling him.

Rasmussen “fell violently to the floor” when he tried to sit down after screening, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court by Spokane lawyers Michael Wolfe and Paul Mack.

Rasmussen filed a claim with the Transportation Security Administration in March regarding the April 4, 2008, incident, but the agency denied the claim “due to the passage of time,” according to the complaint.

“I’m increasingly handicapped as a result of this,” Rasmussen said on Thursday. “I eventually had surgery on my back because of this.”

The complaint seeks unspecified damages.

Felts Field to get more services

A long-time tenant of Felts Field will take over responsibility for fueling planes, and plans to add other services under a contract approved today by the Spokane International Airport board of directors.

The five-year agreement with Western Avionics Inc., doing business as Western Aviation, will bring continuity to Felts operations, which have been hampered by inconsistent service, said Interim airport Director Skp Davis.

Owner Tim Gump said Western has been located at Felts for 35 years. He bought the company  after moving his aircraft electronics business to Spokane from California in 1997, he said.

Besides fueling, Gump said he will provide maintenance, tie-down and other pilot services, possibly including the construction of a new building if another agreeement can be negotiated.

“He’s adamant about customer service,” Davis said, who added that visiting pilots have been put off by the lack of a fixed-base operator at Felts they can turn to for help.