Fast Track Flight Funding Call in Bid to Lure Back LAX Service


A rallying call has been issued to the Central Oregon community to back a fast track fundraising effort with a March 15 deadline in a bid to resurrect direct daily roundtrip air service to Los Angeles. Story by Simon Mather CBN Feature Writer

Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) Executive Director Roger Lee revealed at Wednesday’s EDCO annual luncheon that the region has a shot at luring American Airlines to operate flights between Bend/Redmond (RDM) and Los Angeles (LAX) airports from as early as this summer if the local populous could prove its commitment via advance “Air Travel Bank” (ATB) pledges topping at least $350,000.

Agencies including EDCO, the region’s Chambers of Commerce, Central Oregon Visitors Association and the Redmond Airport have been working diligently behind the scenes on a proposal to American Airlines, which had originally indicated that 2014 might be a possibility for new service to the region.

But last week the national carrier called unexpectedly, indicating it was considering the region for flights this year.  Late last year local representatives met with the airline to present a package of support to win the service, which included the ATB in an effort to sway American’s aircraft allocation decision for Redmond.

Business and community leaders see the revival of the air link to the major market of Los Angeles – which was lost some three years ago when Horizon Air scrapped its Redmond to LA flight schedule – as a key component in boosting economic activity in our region, especially in light of California’s anticipated resurgence and the prospect of streamlined travel timeframes.

The proposed service would be a nonstop daily roundtrip, with a morning departure from Redmond Municipal Airport and an evening return utilizing a 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet 2000 operated under SkyWest Airlines.

As well as the ATB initiative, other incentives put forward as part of the proposal include a revenue guarantee supported by a Small Community Air Service Development Program grant, airport and community marketing support, airport landing fee waivers and assurances regarding terminal space build-out.

American Airlines was targeted as having a good chance of succeeding in the Central Oregon market in light of its network strategy as one of the only carriers growing operations at LAX that service the Pacific Northwest.

LAX is a cornerstone market for American, which accounts for 20 percent of all flights at the hub, including 84 domestic and 60 international nonstop destinations.

A survey of local residents has shown southern California service ranks as a high priority, and currently over 65,000 Central Oregonians fly to and from the Los Angeles Basin.

Broad based business support is seen as crucial in potentially reviving the link, with air service acknowledged as part of the economic foundation of the community amid fierce competition with other “non-hub” regional players.

The goal of the Airline Travel Bank is to “jump-start” the new service by reducing the break-even period and promoting its long-term success, and the program is looking for individual funding commitments of a minimum $2,000 per pledge. The ATB works like a pre-paid ticket plan with travel cards issued and valid for trips on American Airlines’ system for up to a year.

Central Oregon successfully supported Delta Air Lines’ Salt Lake City service with a similar ATB push in 2005, when the community raised $640,000 with 120 companies participating. Performance has been strong with high loads from start-up, and the service was so successful, minimal revenue guarantee funds were needed at the end of year one.

Lee said: “We have a fast timeline, but a great opportunity that we can seize.

“We need community help and an all hands on deck effort to try to reach the Air Travel Bank goal in a short space of time so we can provide a persuasive incentive for American Airlines to pick us rather than a different community to set up the flights.

“The Redmond-LA service has been a missing link for us in recent history and to revive it would be a major economic boost, as well as offering travel time and cost savings”

Anyone interested in participating in the ATB or providing potential referral leads can fill out a pledge form or discuss further steps by contacting: EDCO tel. (541) 388-3236/email:


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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