Airport flights

The Southwestern Oregon Regional Airport is campaigning to return daily flight services from North Bend to Portland, which were discontinued in 2017.

SOUTH COAST — The Southwestern Oregon Regional Airport (OTH) gave a presentation Tuesday morning to Coos County Commissioners on its proposed plans to restore air service to Portland.

Coos County Airport District Executive Director Theresa Cook informed commissioners of the airport’s ongoing efforts to return daily flight services from North Bend to Portland, which has been missing since August 2017 after PenAir discontinued its service.   

According to Cook, the district believes having the service would add to the area’s local economy by increasing access to a number of area businesses, professional organizations and educational institutions.

Following an agreement similar to its seasonal flight service between North Bend and Denver, OTH is looking to provide a revenue guarantee agreement with an airline to lock in the new service.

Cook explained to commissioners that oftentimes a revenue guarantee is needed for smaller communities like Coos County to be able to retain services from large airline companies. The projected loss for an airline to provide a daily roundtrip flight for the area is between $750,000 to $1 million.

That being said, a revenue guarantee agreement would outline that an airline would have to make at least $1 million on its flights to provide its services. According to Cook, the district has already received multiple financial commitment letters from a number of local stakeholders totaling over $800,000.

In addition to those funds, she added the district will also be applying for grants from the Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASD) and the Rural Oregon Airport Relief Program. If awarded, the combined amount given to the district would be about $1.25 million.

The next step she added would be securing a letter of intent from an airline and then gathering letters of support from community and governmental agencies. The district plans on attaching the documents to its final grant application to the SCASD. The recipients of the grants will be announced later this summer.

At the end of the presentation, Commissioner John Sweet said the county will most likely not participate in providing financial assistance. The district is hoping to provide air service for the next three years.

“It’s not likely to happen to get a check from the county,” said Sweet. “There are other companies in this community who might be willing to do that.”

He added the county would be able to provide a letter of support possibly if it is requested from them. The Mill Casino-Hotel, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, the cities of Coos Bay and North Bend were among some of the entities Cook said have submitted their financial commitments to the project.

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Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.