City officials in Newport say they’ve arranged for passenger airline flights to resume for the first time in nearly a decade. But the air service is contingent on the city getting a $500,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Aviation, through the agency’s Rural Oregon Airport Relief Program.
Newport Municipal Airport director Lance Vanderbeck said the flights would be on a small airline called Boutique Air. The San Francisco-based carrier operates a handful of flights in select markets around the country. Currently, the airline’s only route in the Pacific Northwest is from Portland to Pendleton, Oregon.
Under the city’s proposal, Boutique would a single-engine turboprop aircraft called a Pilatus PC-12. Initially, the flight would likely depart Portland mid-day, land in Newport, and return back to Portland in the afternoon. The service would operate Monday through Friday. At Portland International, passengers could connect to flights operated by other airlines.
Vanderbeck said while the flights would provide a missing link for the central Oregon coast, the service would likely not turn a profit in the short term. “We do know that to keep the air service here for the time being, we’ll have to pursue granting opportunities,” he said. After the initial grant from the Oregon Department of Aviation, Vanderbeck said the city has plans for possible other grants to continue the service beyond the first year. Should the state grant be awarded, the City of Newport would kick in $50,000 of local taxpayer dollars to help start up the service.
The Oregon Department of Aviation considers rural air service grants on a rolling basis, so a decision could be made as soon as this summer. The agency is currently considering applications from other communities hoping to establish or bolster commercial air service, including Klamath Falls and Salem. The grants are funded by a tax on airplane fuel sold in the state of Oregon.