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Idaho legislators consider ways to increase air travel in the state

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 23, 2020

A Horizon Air Q400 turboprop airplane, part of Alaska Air Group, is moved into position by airport workers Aug. 13, 2018, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash.  (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)
A Horizon Air Q400 turboprop airplane, part of Alaska Air Group, is moved into position by airport workers Aug. 13, 2018, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)
Associated Press

Associated Press

BOISE – Lawmakers in Idaho have considered ways to increase air travel in the state as flights have been reduced or eliminated in recent years, stunting economic growth.

Horizon Air stopped direct flights from the Lewiston airport to Boise two years ago and discontinued flights to Boise from Pocatello in 2006 and from Idaho Falls in 2010, Boise State Public Radio reported.

Lawmakers have argued that communities with fewer travel options are less attractive to businesses and people planning to relocate, so they hired a consultant to figure out how to lure airlines back or increase existing flights.

Mead & Hunt Project Manager Jeffrey Hartz told the committee Wednesday that there would need to be a financial incentive for the airlines to make any plan work.

“It could be a minimum revenue guarantee, it could be a capacity purchase type of agreement like the state of Wyoming has done. It could be more direct subsidy type of aspects,” he said.

Wyoming pays an airline to run flights out of regional airports, officials said, adding that the latest data from two years ago shows the state paid $3.5 million and the six local airports paid $3.7 million to subsidize them.

The consultant is scheduled to work on the plan over the next three months, officials said.

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