One silver lining to Walla Walla’s reduced flight schedule: More people are packing the planes.
An average 80 percent load factor for both indoor and outdoor flights was a highlight of activity at the Walla Walla Regional Airport during October, airport Manager Jennifer Skoglund said Tuesday.
October passenger counts overall were significantly down, continuing a trend started in August when Alaska Airlines initiated the flight reduction to two daily takeoffs and landings.
Last month, 3,735 passengers departed Walla Walla, compared to 4,452 during the same month a year ago. The number of people coming into the community in October was 3,533, a 21 percent drop from October 2017, when 4,476 people traveled to the community.
October has been a traditionally busy air-travel month for the community. Skoglund attributed the drop to the reduced schedule.
The three-flight schedule was reinstated Nov. 4 for five days a week. With the exception of Tuesdays and Saturdays, when a two-flight schedule is offered, the airport has three daily flights and will continue to until Jan. 6, Skoglund said.
At that time, she anticipates another reduction during the slower travel season for the airline and then restoration again possibly in spring.
Notwithstanding the restoration of the third flight, November numbers — not yet released — will likely be affected by cancellations due to weather.
“There’s two sides to those flights,” Port of Walla Walla Executive Director Pat Reay said. “The weather here and the weather in Seattle.”
Delays and groundings at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport due to weather have kept planes from being available here for takeoffs when weather would have been OK on the eastern side of the Cascades, he said.
For October, there were no cancellations of outbound flights, compared to eight in October 2017. Two inbound flights were canceled last month. That compares to seven during the month a year prior.
A lunchtime meeting of business leaders Tuesday ended with a call to action to help feed local school children.
The Port of Walla Walla Economic Development Advisory Committee meeting offered an unexpected opportunity for attendees to become a part of “Giving Tuesday,” the global movement of charitable giving that falls the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
Initiated by Walla Walla resident, city Planning Commissioner and regular meeting attendee Barlow Corkrum, the passing of the hat collected $190 for students who may need help paying for lunches.
Corkrum delivered the collection to the Walla Walla School District office.
The catered Economic Development Advisory Committee meetings take place every six weeks at the Walla Walla Regional Airport terminal building.
Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @VickiHillhouse.