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Thursday, October 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Local group exploring Boise charter flights

By Elaine Williams Lewiston Tribune

Supporters of the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport are conducting a survey to gauge demand for charter service between Lewiston and Boise.

The survey asks six questions about how often people need direct commercial air service to Boise and when they need to fly. It also gives responders an opportunity to list the top three destinations they access with scheduled flights and gives them a chance to make comments or suggestions.

The survey was created by Chris Clemens, the acting airport manager who is on a leave of absence from his position on the airport authority board; Deb Smith, another airport board member; Michelle Peters, president and CEO of Visit Lewis Clark Valley; and Karl Dye, president and CEO of Valley Vision.

The group sent the survey to their lists of email contacts. They also posted it on the airport’s website, golws.com, as well as on the Facebook pages of Valley Vision and Lewiston Airport Supporters. The latter is administered by Smith and Clemens, among others.

There’s no cost in conducting the survey. Smith’s employer, Clearwater Economic Development Association, is allowing the group to use an online service for which the association has a subscription.

The group expects to present the findings at the end of January to Hillcrest Aircraft Co. and Stout Flying Services, two businesses that offer charter flights, Dye said. The hope is that responses will result in more charters to and from Boise before the Idaho Legislative session ends.

“We want to feed that (data) back in and help the charter services grow as much as possible,” Dye said.

Other ways the data could be used will depend on the survey results.

“It might give us an innovative solution that might be best for the Lewiston airport,” he said.

The effort is one of the steps that is being taken to improve commercial passenger air service after Lewiston lost direct flights to Seattle and Boise when Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines, withdrew its Lewiston services. SkyWest continues to serve Lewiston with Salt Lake City flights.

Efforts to bolster options in Lewiston are focused on charters and Boise for a number of reasons.

Passengers in north central Idaho and southeastern Washington can still fly nonstop to Seattle from the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport, but not Boise, the other destination Horizon dropped.

Alaska Airlines cited an ongoing pilot shortage as a reason to have Horizon withdraw Lewiston from its roster, and such shortages are constraining all airlines. Plus, negotiating with airlines to add flights will be difficult as long as tension exists among the leaders of the Lewiston airport.

“There needs to be a period of stability with the airport owners and the airport board to be able to do that,” Dye said.

The airport is owned by the city of Lewiston and Nez Perce County. The city council and county commission appoint members to a five-member board that oversees the facility.

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