The Port of Pasco will pursue air service to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport after securing a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The Small Community Air Service Development grant will let the port guarantee revenue to prospective airlines willing to serve the Tri-Cities Airport. It is not a guarantee that an airline will step up, but it helps take the risk out of adding a route to an airline schedule.
“This is the first step in the process,” said Buck Taft, airport director. “We will begin working on this opportunity immediately and hope to offer nonstop service to Dallas-Fort Worth, and beyond, as soon as possible.”
Dallas-Fort Worth is a Top 10 destination for Tri-Citians but there has never been direct service to it or any other airport in Texas.
The port credited Washington’s congressional delegation for securing the funds.
“Local airports spur a significant amount of economic development throughout our district and provide a steady source of income for our communities,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, who is running for reelection against Democrat Doug White. “This grant is a substantial federal investment that will help our community to continue to grow and thrive.”
The airport previously secured a similar grant to pursue direct service to Los Angeles International Airport, which is another popular destination for local travelers.
The airport recorded nearly 315,000 passengers in 2021, down from the record of 438,123, which was set in 2019, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic 2022 traffic is running 27% ahead of 2021.
The Tri-Cities Airport is served by six airlines: United, Alaska, Delta, Avelo, Aha and Allegiant.
Collectively, they provide direct service to 11 markets: Seattle, San Francisco, Burbank, Salt Lake City, Denver, Minneapolis, Reno, Las Vegas and Phoenix-Mesa, with seasonal service to Los Angeles and San Diego.
United announced it would offer a direct connection to Chicago, but the plan was put on hold by the pandemic.
Now, according to port officials, the aircraft United wanted to use is not feasible due to a change in how the FAA calculates the average weight of passengers. United will have to use a larger aircraft, pushing back the timeframe to secure service “significantly.”
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