The deadline for local businesses, entities and community members to submit letters of support and pledge donations for the addition of Denver flights at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport is approaching.
Those letters, as well as $325,000 sought in donations, will help the airport qualify for a U.S. Department of Transportation grant that will attract an airline to provide flights to and from Colorado. The letters are due Monday.
Tony Bean, executive director of the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport, said the airport is still about $80,000 short of the $325,000 donation goal. The USDOT’s Small Community Air Service Program grant would provide an additional $750,000 to $1 million to help secure a new carrier once that goal is reached. However, the Development Program requires a local match from public and private sources to help the airport advertise the new airline’s services after it begins operation in Pullman.
Bean said that local match is roughly 27 percent, but the more money received, the better chance the airport has at landing the new air service.
“That shows the Department of Transportation we’re serious,” Bean said.
Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson said last week Denver flights would run twice a day and be 50-seat passenger jets.
The airport currently offers Seattle flights through Alaska Airlines. United or SkyWest Airlines could offer flights to and from Denver, and Bean said he is expecting a letter of support from United.
EMSI and the Best Western Plus University Inn, both of Moscow, are two businesses that have pledged significant donations to the grant.
Mike O’Brien, general manager of Best Western Plus University Inn, said his business pledged $10,000 because it believes the flights will not only benefit the inn, but help grow the economy on the Palouse.
“Additional services will help bring more businesses into the economy for Moscow and Pullman,” he said.
The Pullman City Council on June 18 also approved a $150,000 Lodging Tax Grant to help with the grant efforts.
Bean said he expects to hear the government’s decision on the grant sometime in late fall.
He said many cities have applied for the highly competitive grant multiple times and failed, so it is advantageous that this is the first time the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport has applied, especially because it has a “bona fide need” for flights to Denver.
Britnee Christen, tourism director for the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, said the airport is an important resource given the Palouse has no major interstate, waterway or train and it is heavily used by the universities and local businesses.
Bean said the airport has not applied for this grant before because the current runway infrastructure would not have attracted new airlines. The new runway, scheduled to open in October, now allows the airport to apply for such a grant.
Bean said any business or individual is welcome to submit a letter of support to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit it in person at the airport.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to email@example.com.