This spring, Boise business leaders found a target and zeroed in. The Boise Airport had recently been hit by a spate of cuts. Southwest had suspended local service to Seattle, Salt Lake and Reno, and that was only the latest round of flight reductions. Preserving and expanding air service would be its chief focus, a Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce committee decided.
Toward that goal, the Boise Airport this month applied for a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Small Community Air Service Development Program. The Boise Metro Chamber signed on to provide a match — $10,000 in cash and an additional $10,000 in promotional support.
“For a little chamber like ours, that was a big commitment,” president and CEO Bill Connors says. “It shows how important the air service issue is to the community and the chamber here.”
Boise Airport Deputy Director Bryant Francis says the grant, if it’s awarded, will be used to try to attract direct service from Boise to a southern or southeastern hub: Dallas, Houston, Atlanta or Charlotte. It will also be used to secure intrastate service between Boise and Sun Valley.
The grant money will be offered up to carriers as what’s called a minimum revenue guarantee. In other words, if a carrier agrees to fly one of the desired routes and the flight doesn’t meet an established monthly revenue target, then the airport will tap the grant money to make up the difference. But all of that, Francis says, is far ahead. “We’re certainly hopeful that we’re successful in receiving the grant, and at that time we can begin discussions with carriers about the viability of providing service to those hubs,” he says. Francis expects the Department of Transportation to make the grant decisions by late summer.
For now, he says, the airport is attracting more flights as airlines work to meet summer travel demands. U.S. Airways is flying a third flight to Phoenix, he says. Alaska Airlines has increased the frequency of its flights to Seattle and Portland, and Delta is flying four daily trips to Minneapolis this summer.
Horizon Air President Glenn Johnson will speak at a June 28 Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce event. Francis and Connors say there’s no announcement about expanded service from the airline in the works, but Horizon did recently decide to base some of their crews in Boise. “It’s good news when an airline puts down more permanent looking stakes in a community,” Bill Connors says.