It can work: When Delta/SkyWest was in Salem, it was their most successful start up and they were considering adding Seattle service before the economy crashed in 2008.
Is Salem's airport large enough for commercial air service?
Is the runway long enough?
At 5,811 feet, the main runway is over one mile long (longer than the runway at Orange County/John Wayne Airport) and can easily accommodate the regional aircraft we would see in Salem. It can even handle 737s.
How much public money is being spent on this effort?
No local government dollars have been spent on this. It's been a broad, private-sector community effort and will continue to be so. There will be some City staff time needed to help coordinate the effort becuase the City of Salem owns the airport. The Committee plans to raise all necessary funds with local contributions and grants.
Didn't this fail last time? Why do it again?
Actually, no, it didn't fail. Salem lost Delta air service in 2008 due to external factors not related to Salem - the tripling of the price of oil, and the impending recession. The Salem area did support the service and proved itself a viable market. At the same time service ceased in Salem, dozens of other communities lost their service due to the same factors. The Delta service was a success and now we have even stronger demographics and a stronger, more diverse economy.
What's with the name change rumor?
There is some talk about renaming the airport Willamette Valley Regional Airport to take advantage of our position in the heart of the valley and the strong wine industry tourism market.
What airlines could we get?
The Strategic Plan indicates our goals would align with United or Alaska, or with regional carrier powerhouse SkyWest in conjunction with either of those. But other airlines will follow after Salem has proven to be a lucrative market for airlines.
What destinations will I be able to reach?
The Strategic Plan identifies the United hubs at SFO (San Francisco) or DEN (Denver), and the Alaska hub in SEA (Seattle) as the most promising destinations. From those locations, Salem flights could connect to hundreds of destinations all over the country and the world.
Why do we have to raise money?
We're in competition with communities all over North America that are trying to recruit airlines to their area. We need to create a recruitment package that demonstrates regional, political, and business community support, a plan to market the service, and a minimum revenue guarantee (MRG) fund to backfill any potential revenue deficiencies.
Who's on the Steering Committee?
About 15 Salem community members and business leaders are on the Fly Salem Steering Committee. The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, SEDCOR, and Travel Salem are the anchor organizations. These three non-profits represent our region's business community, economic development, and tourism advocates. The committee is volunteer and has no staff or budget.
What's the timeline?
We began this effort and raising private funds in 2017. The results of the Catchment and Leakage study were released on Jun 11th, 2018. We first met with airline representatives at an air service conference in April, and again in October, 2019. The most optimistic scenario is the start of service in 2020, although it could arrive later. We're subject to timing of grant applications and awards, the carrier's decision timing, and scheduling variables. But most importantly, we need your support of a pledge to the MRG. If we had our MRG fund at over one million dollars now, we could potentially have air service in six months.
What will tickets cost? Will they be more expensive than PDX?
Ticket prices change daily. We can't know what the cost will be given for any destination. We should anticipate that they'll be higher than PDX, as it's more expensive to operate a smaller aircraft. However, the cost of night-before hotel stays, parking, gasoline, and -more than anything- time will make Salem a better value for many travelers.
Who's helping recruit the airlines?
We've secured the services of Jack Penning at Volaire Aviation (volaireaviation.com).
Consider the costs of flying from PDX...
~ $24/day to park
~ $70+/- for round trip mileage reimbursement
~ Overnight hotel stays
~ Hours of lost productivity due to driving time and additional stress from navigation & gridlock
~ Proposed tolling on I-5