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City Club of Eugene: The New Jet Age? The Future of SW Oregon Airports

Oregon is home to nearly 100 public-use airports, ranging in size from Portland International Airport with over 13 million annual passengers, to small unattended airports like the McDermitt State Airport in Malheur County. These airports are critical to the economic vitality of communities throughout the state and act as key nodes for both passenger and freight traffic.

Worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended global aviation, with passenger air transport down 75% in August 2020 and freight traffic down about 12% during the same span, according  to the International Air Transport Association. In Oregon , passenger travel at the Eugene Airport in January 2021  remained 60% below its January 2020 level.

As COVID restrictions ease, demand  for air travel remains strong in many parts of the state, including the South/Central Coast. Meanwhile, the environmental impact of aviation remains under the microscope as Oregon grapples with its climate goals.

Are we at the beginning of a new age in aviation? How should we think about airports (and air travel) in the context of economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability? What new ideas have emerged from the pandemic?


Betty Stansbury, A.A.E., is the Director of the Oregon Department of Aviation. Betty has served in airports in Texas, Kansas, Oregon, Indiana, and most recently in North Carolina, as the Executive Director of the Pitt-Greenville Airport Authority.

Cathryn Stevens, A.A.E., is the Acting Airport Director of Eugene Airport and has worked at EUG since 2007. Prior to her work in the aviation industry, Cathryn worked for 16 years in television news as a reporter, anchor, producer, and photographer, in addition to experience in radio and newspaper.

Shelley Humble is the Airport Manager of Hobby Field in Creswell, where she has worked for 22 years. Hobby Field, which is owned and operated by the City of Creswell, sits on 102 acres just east of I-5 and is one of Oregon's busiest General Aviation Airports