Welcome news has arrived for business travelers in recent weeks, as Spokane Airports has announced four new direct flights between Spokane and major metropolitan markets.
Difficulty getting to and from work-related destinations is a common complaint among businesspeople who must travel frequently, and airport leaders’ efforts to expand offerings are laudable.
In recent weeks, Spokane Airports has announced new daily, year-round nonstop flights between Spokane and San Francisco, Dallas, and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Also, a new seasonal nonstop has been added to San Diego.
Each of the added year-round direct flights is significant in its own right. The Dallas addition is the first direct flights between Spokane and any destination in Texas, and year-round access to Chicago’s O’Hare give travelers heading east another alternative to the seasonal direct flights offered to Midway International Airport in Chicago.
Those flights add some welcome geographic diversity to the offerings out of Spokane. With the exception of Minneapolis, all other direct flights are on the West Coast or in the Mountain West.
While the geographic diversity is worthy of applause, greater need has existed on the West Coast. The San Francisco flight gives a much-needed second option to frequent travelers to the Bay Area, who previously could only fly directly to Oakland.
The new flights all are scheduled to begin lifting off in June or July. Once they are operational, Spokane will have direct access to a total of 15 cities, a point economic development leaders can use when selling companies on moving to or expanding into the Spokane area. While that certainly isn’t as many direct connections as one would find in a larger market, the argument for Spokane is a lot stronger than it would have been four months ago.
In past interviews, Spokane Airports CEO Larry Krauter has talked about how airlines cut flights to smaller cities during and following the Great Recession more substantially than they cut those coming in and out of larger metropolitan markets. They have been adding more flights to and from Spokane in recent years, and additional direct flights is part of that encouraging trend.
Krauter also has described a “cutthroat environment” in which smaller cities have to sell the major airlines on providing more service. The competition is intense, he has said, because demand is apparent in most markets.
Of course, trends in service can be short lived, and airlines can be capricious. Five years ago, Allegiant Air announced with much fanfare direct flights between Spokane and Honolulu, but that service proved to be fleeting. The direct flights that airlines have committed to Spokane will be subject to changing market dynamics and shifts in philosophy from the airlines.
Even so, it’s encouraging to see more options added for those who must travel for business. Spokane Airports should be applauded for working to expand service while maintaining the connections already in place.
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