NORTH BEND — With PenAir’s last flight out of North Bend on Monday, flying to the Portland area is no longer an option for South Coast residents.
After announcing it was canceling Pacific Northwest area flights last week, PenAir filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy over the weekend.
In the last year, more than 7,000 people flew to Portland from North Bend, according to the airport’s public information officer Jennifer Groth.
PenAir’s departure means Southwest Oregon Regional Airport (OTH) is down to one airline, offering flights to San Francisco and Denver.
Joseph Monahan, Chairperson of the Coos Bay-North Bend Visitor and Convention Bureau, said the cancellation is going to make it a lot harder to get conventions to come to town.
“When you start looking at some of the executives that are on a tight schedule, they’re not going to want to drive two hours from Eugene down here,” Monahan said.
He’s hoping that there will be another northbound service provider to take PenAir’s place.
“Getting the Portland flight back is going to be a help to get businesses to relocate here,” Monahan said.
Southwest Oregon Regional Airport Executive director Teresa Cook said the airport is in discussions for a Portland area flight replacement.
“While the departure of PenAir from the South Coast is disappointing news, our airport will continue to provide flights to San Francisco and Denver, and we will work with local airline staff to minimize travel impacts to customers who have already booked flights through PenAir. We are already in discussions with our air service consultants and community partners to find other air service options for the Portland market,” Cook said in a prepared statement.
Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock said the closure not only affects visitor’s ability to get to the area, but could also have an effect on Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
“That obviously affects just one other avenue where people have more difficulty getting to our area, and could have a negative effect also to one of our largest employers in the county which is Bandon Dunes,” Craddock said.
James Turner, director of projects at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, said it’s too early to comment about the airline’s departure.
“We’re just absorbing the news right now,” Turner said.
The Alaska-based airline’s Portland and Denver area hubs will close within the next 90 days.
The airport is pointing to a nationwide pilot shortage.
“Southwest Oregon Regional Airport, like many regional airports nationwide, is experiencing the impact of a nationwide pilot shortage,” Cook said in the statement.
Missy Roberts with PenAir said there are currently around 900 reservations that will be contacted individually according to travel dates.
“We do not have the ability to send out a mass email to all those passengers currently holding a reservation (i.e. for all passengers flying PDX to OTH); however we are calling each and every one of them,” Roberts wrote in an email.
Travelers are encouraged to contact PenAir at 800-448-4226 for up-to-date information on the status of their flights.
In a statement Monday, PenAir CEO Danny Seybert said the steps PenAir is taking will allow it “to emerge as a stronger airline.”