Editorial: Upswing in local air travel is encouraging

Air service in and out of Walla Walla is essential to the community. The more it is used, the more likely Alaska Air will continue to provide it.

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The record-breaking September for air service is more than an encouraging sign Alaska Air will continue to serve Walla Walla, it’s a trend.

The September record for those flying in and out of the Walla Walla Regional Airport was the third monthly record broken this year. The months of May and July also saw more passengers this year than any previous year.

Air service to Walla Walla has been threatened over the past few years because regular flights were not penciling out as a good business decision.

But regular, affordable air service in and out of Walla Walla is critical to the community’s economic health. Action has been taken, including garnering a $250,000 federal grant to promote the local air service, to keep Alaska flying and ensure enough flights are available daily to serve the community’s needs.

It seems progress is being made, although the trend must continue month after month. The number of people flying out of Walla Walla was up 5.8 percent from the previous September while the number of folks flying into the Valley was up 2 percent.

Alaska Air needs to make a reasonable profit to continue service. As the usage of Alaska services trends upward, airline officials can see their investment here will be fiscally sustainable over time.

Affordable and dependable air service is essential to companies based in Walla Walla such as Banner Bank, Key Technology and Coffey Communications. Whitman College, Walla Walla University and Walla Walla Community College count on it, too, as does the growing tourism industry.

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