A second flight could return to the Walla Walla Regional Airport as soon as August, airport Manager Jennifer Skoglund said Thursday.
Skoglund told Port of Walla Walla commissioners during their regular meeting she has had some “positive correspondence” with the network planning department at Alaska Airlines.
The airline, which posted its first quarterly loss in more than a decade last month, reportedly told Skoglund sales are beginning to improve in the Pacific Northwest.
The $232 million first-quarter loss came as no surprise, considering airports such as Walla Walla’s reported drastic drops in travelers because of travel concerns and restrictions related to the novel coronavirus.
Some days, the airport produced no passengers at all during the pandemic. But that appears to be changing.
Speaking at Thursday’s regular Port of Walla Walla meeting, Skoglund told commissioners she contacted Alaska representatives to get a feel for what the airport can expect for flights this year.
“(I) was just reaching out to them and asking how things are going here in Walla Walla and what they see on the horizon — no pun intended,” she said.
Skoglund said the slight uptick in numbers also includes Walla Walla Regional Airport.
“So that’s good news,” she said.
The planning department reportedly reassesses flight numbers at airports about every two weeks and then determines whether to cut back or increase flights. Skoglund said the airline is looking as soon as August to add back a second flight to some days at the airport, which has been operating with just one departure per day.
In the same meeting, Port Executive Director Pat Reay reiterated that Walla Walla County can’t count on incoming travelers yet for an economic recovery.
“Right now, with what’s going on with the continued infection rate, we’re not really out marketing for destination-type travel for our community,” Reay said.
The Port is working with Visit Walla Walla and the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation in a “buy local, shop local” campaign, Reay said, in order to encourage economic stimulation from within the county.