Plenty of changes are happening in Central Oregon and one of the big changes over the past few years came to the Redmond Airport. An extensive addition and remodel was completed last year and as of February Redmond has a new Airport Director, Kim Dickie. She has 25 years experience in security and operations at the San Francisco airport and is delighted be in her new position as such an integral part of our community.
Dickie, who succeeded long-time Roberts Field Manager Carrie Novick, is an experienced civilian and military officer with a comprehensive background in many facets of aviation operations. She currently is a colonel in the Air Force Reserves and holds a bachelor of arts and a master of science from the University of Southern California.
The following is an interview I had with Dickie to learn about the business model for the airport and what they are doing to improve service.
CBN: What is the business model for the airport?
Dickie: I work for the city manager of the City of Redmond, David Brandt. We have an Airport Commission which is an advisory board of nine members that includes members of the three different counties as well as a liaison member of the Redmond City Council. The Redmond Mayor George Endicott is also on that advisory committee. We meet every two months and the committee’s role is to help define the vision of the airport. They help us determine what the community needs are to direct us to make sound financial decisions. They are our eyes and ears of the surrounding counties we serve. We work as a community.
CBN: What are the goals for the airport?
Dickie: One of the first things is to focus on service and developing additional routes for the airport. We are reaching out to the airline community with our existing carriers and developing new opportunities with other air carriers for additional service in and out of Redmond.
CBN: What happened with Allegiant Air?
Dickie: Allegiant Air is pulling out of Redmond. They have been here since 2007 and their last flight will be August 12. They had decided it was not economically feasible to stay here as a route. It’s easy for them to move in and out of
CBN: Why is that?
Dickie: They have a different model. It’s a travel airline more than an airline focused on passenger movement. Their business model expects return on investment from all aspects of the travel not just the
CBN: How are you attracting other airlines to become carriers here?
Dickie: We are applying for an Air Service Grant. It’s called a Small Air Service Community Program, sponsored by the Department of Transportation. The grant is one of the things we can do to get additional service. The funding allows us to take the risk off of an airline to start a new route with service. It helps them in the first two years to start a new route with marketing. It’s similar to a rebate program. We want funding to support a route to Southern California.
CBN: When will you know if you will receive the grant?
Dickie: Probably in August. Another thing we are doing is an assessment with a census of the market to determine where the final destinations are for folks traveling out of Redmond. With that information we can solicit air carriers by showing we have the traffic to support a carrier. The cities we are currently serving: Portland, San Francisco, Denver, Portland and Seattle are still very key. In addition LAX, Las Vegas and San Diego are
The second goal is marketing the airport and letting the community know what a great facility this is. We are putting together local marketing campaign to entice people to fly out of Redmond versus Portland. Twenty percent of the community flies out of Portland and two percent fly out of Eugene.
CBN: What do you need the community to do to support the airport?
Dickie: I think the community has definitely stepped up to the plate. We have received over a hundred letters of support for the air service grant. Actually that was one of the things that surprised me! It’s reflective of community involvement. It gives us a strong voice for helping us get that air service grant. The community has been tremendously supportive.
The third thing we are doing is trying to be an economic attraction for businesses around the airport. The airport owns property around the actual airport property here that could be used in a multitude of ways. Lastly we are redesigning the airport website to be more user friendly.
CBN: What is the airports current usage and capacity?
Dickie: Currently we have 240,000 passengers per year with a daily average of 900. We are at half our capacity.
CBN: When do you foresee new carriers coming into the airport?
Dickie: I think it will take another two to three years to bring additional carriers here. I hope sooner but I think two to three years is realistic. A carrier has to have an aircraft available and most are not buying new airplanes. There are set up costs at an airport for an airline. I think there is the demand for additional routes, but it takes a few years to entice carriers to allocate resources.
The Redmond Airport is a lifeline to all of Central Oregon. It was gratifying to hear of the efforts being made by Dickie and her team to bring in further air service for the community. It didn’t surprise me that they got 100 letters of support from the community in their effort to get a grant. Community defines Central Oregon.
If you have an interesting success story that may inspire our community of entrepreneurs please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Elizabeth Ueland, Broker with Bend Premier Real Estate.