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Southwest Airlines Touching Down In Eugene Later This Year

Trac Vu

A new carrier is coming to the Eugene Airport: Southwest Airlines.

Specifics are still being worked out, but it’s expected that the airline will begin in the latter half of 2021, perhaps as early as July.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Brittany Quick-Warner at a press conference today, flanked by Eugene officials and members of travel and economic development groups.

Brittany Quick-Warner of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce says it’s been a city-wide effort to land Southwest for regional air travel.

“We had over 50 individual businesses or public partners who came together to make a pledge, to fly local, to fly Southwest," she said at a press conference. 

"But more importantly to invest in this community and that’s why we’re excited about Southwest coming, because it’s a representation of this idea of growth and opportunity, and Southwest saw in Eugene, Oregon that we are doing big things.”

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Cathryn Stephens, Acting Airport Director for the Eugene Airport.

The exact start date and routes have yet to be determined.  Eugene Airport officials say regional COVID-19 data will play a part in those decisions.

But a Eugene Airport administrator says it’s taken ten years of meetings and incentives to bring Southwest Airlines to its facility.

And besides bolstering tourism and commerce, landing an airline that accommodates pole vaulters doesn’t hurt either. 

Eugene hosts the U.S. Olympic team trials for track and field this summer, and the World Athletic Championships in 2022.

Credit Frans Vledder / Unsplash

Acting (Eugene) Airport Director Cathryn Stephens said Southwest lets pole vaulters travel with their poles.    

“It’s actually a really important thing for the pole vaulting community is to be able to fly on an aircraft that can bring your pole along with you," explained Stephens.

"Pole vaulters don’t like to have to send their poles separately, they want to fly with their poles so they make sure they arrive along with them.”

Poles can generally range from 10 to nearly 18 feet long. Some airlines don't ship them, or charge heavily to accomodate them on their aircraft. 

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.