Redmond to Phoenix flights start in June 2016

Redmond to Phoenix flights start in June

American Airlines to fly daily to Phoenix Sky Harbor International

By Stephen Hamway / The Bulletin / @Shamway1

Service starts and stops

Flights out of Redmond Airport were limited to Portland, Seattle and San Francisco in the early 2000s. That changed as Central Oregon’s population grew and the area garnered new attention as a tourism destination. But the recession hit airlines hard, causing many to cut back on flights to and from smaller airports.

2005

March: Delta Air Lines starts service to Salt Lake City

2006

June: United Airlines starts service to Denver

August: Horizon Air starts service to Los Angeles

2007

March: Allegiant Air starts service to Las Vegas

2008

October: Allegiant Air starts service to Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona.

2010

August: Horizon Air ends service to Los Angeles

2012

April: Allegiant ends Las Vegas flight, adds Oakland flight

May: Allegiant ends Phoenix-Mesa, Oakland flights

2013

June: American Airlines adds Los Angeles flight

2014

September: United Express ends Portland flight

2016

June: American adds Phoenix flight

Source: The Bulletin’s archives

After five months of speculation, Redmond Airport officials announced Friday that it will be offering nonstop daily service to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport via American Airlines, beginning June 2.

“It makes us more accessible. I think it provides another connection, another port of call,” said Roger Lee, executive director of Economic Development for Central Oregon.

American Airlines will use a Bombardier CRJ-700 airplane, which seats 67 passengers. The flight will depart daily from Redmond at 12:01 p.m., arriving in Phoenix at 2:20 p.m. Departures will leave Phoenix at 8:15 p.m., and arrive in Redmond at 10:20 p.m.

Zachary Bass, business director for Redmond Airport, said the airport signed a contract to keep the airline here for two years.

“We’re expecting them to stay the whole time,” Bass said.

Tickets will go on sale Sunday, though the price of the tickets was not disclosed Friday.

There has been speculation about a direct flight to Phoenix since Redmond Airport received a grant for $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grant, which was approved by the Redmond City Council in November, came through the federal Small Community Air Service Development Program, designed to help smaller airports attract flights. Redmond was one of 11 successful applicants out of a field of 49, according to the minutes from a Redmond Airport committee meeting in January.

The grant required additional investment from Central Oregon, however. As a condition of the agreement, the Central Oregon Air Service Team, a volunteer collection of local business advocates who work to attract flights to the region, committed to raising $100,000 in matching funds.

Nicole Jurgensen, security manager for Redmond Airport, described this as a standard provision for attracting flights. Grants have also been used to draw existing flights to Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Lee said the city of Bend has committed to $15,000 in 2016, and the rest of the money will be coming from other local governments and businesses.

“I’m still in fundraising mode,” Lee said.

In 2008, Allegiant airline began offering twice-weekly flights between Redmond and Mesa, Arizona, a suburb southeast of Phoenix. The flights were canceled permanently in 2012, after intermittent suspensions of service, according to The Bulletin’s archives.

However, Lee said he’s confident things will go differently this time around. He said having consistent daily service should help establish the route, and flying into Sky Harbor, the largest airport in Arizona, is a competitive advantage. Jurgensen added that American Airlines has a hub in Phoenix and connects to 81 locations in four countries from the airport.

“There are more connections out of Phoenix on American than out of LAX,” Jurgensen said, referring to Los Angeles International Airport.

To help with establishing a market in metropolitan Phoenix, Central Oregon Visitors Association will be investing a minimum of $50,000 in a marketing effort in the region.

President and CEO Alana Hughson said the marketing campaign will consist of targeted print and online advertising and will be implemented by the beginning of March. She said the spring campaign is designed to target older citizens with a passion for golf, as well as younger Arizonans who could be enticed by Central Oregon’s winter offerings.

“We’re fortunate to live in a day and age where we can target our messaging to very specific demographics,” Hughson said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7818, shamway@bendbulletin.com

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