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Even if it isn’t entirely surprising, PenAir Airlines’ announcement last week that it will end service from Coos Bay/North Bend to Portland, it’s still another setback for the regional transportation hub.

Southwest Oregon Regional Airport Executive Director Teresa Cook told The World’s Saphara Harrell that while this is disappointing news, airport officials are already in discussions with their air service consultants and community partners to find other service options for the Portland market.

We praise the officials’ quick action to seek out other airlines to serve the area.

Ultimately, the decline of rural airports signals yet another shift in the consolidation of economic growth and power to the state’s urban centers. And although the loss of these airports may make sense economically, something more than wealth is being lost, boosters say. The alternative to keeping commercial service in small communities is that we lose touch even more with those communities. And that drives a greater wedge between the urban and rural communities in Oregon.

The airport (OTH) will continue service to Denver and San Francisco, Cook told The World in an Aug. 8 article.

In the last year, more than 7,000 people flew from OTH to Portland International Airport (PDX).

Air service to this state’s largest metropolitan area is vital to the business needs of this community as it can affect tourism, conventions and other businesses such as the 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 impact to one of our largest employers in the county which is Bandon Dunes,” Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock told The World in its Aug. 8 article.

PenAir’s news is met with disappointment but not disheartenment. Indeed, Cook and management at Southwest Oregon Regional Airport have their work cut out for them. If the past is any indication, though, the airport will recover from this.

The following lists revenues generated by OTH and air carrier operating revenues:

• Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Airport Operating Revenues: $3,000,687.04

• Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Landing Fees and Passenger Facility Charges (All Carriers): $103,831.25 (3 percent of total annual operating revenues)

• Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Landing Fees and Passenger Facility Charges (PenAir): $20,443.36 (1 percent of total annual operating revenues)

Not having commercial air service is like not having a hospital or a grocery store. The loss of can severely limit the growth of a community and render it a different kind of town, a backwater, a flyover zone.

It is imperative that officials earnestly work to acquire a second airline to provide service to the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport. OTH is the only airport that offers commercial service to coastal Oregon.

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