Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport flying high into the future

Airport just realigned runway, is in early stages of building new, larger terminal with baggage claim

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COLE QUINN

Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport is federally compliant now that its runway has been realigned to meet Federal Aviation Administration standards.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen reporter

The Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport is now federally compliant after completing the runway realignment project several weeks ago — and the airport has other significant changes coming in the near future. 

The runway realignment was necessary because the runway and taxiway were too close to each other to meet standards from the Federal Aviation Administration, said airport executive director Tony Bean.

“Essentially what the project did for the airport was it turned the runway and taxiway … five degrees,” said Coby Boyd, fifth-year civil engineering major.

Boyd said he worked as an intern for the engineering consulting company Mead & Hunt, which led the runway realignment project for the airport. Boyd’s job focused on communicating with the various players in the runway realignment, helping to ensure the engineer’s visions were met.

The airport is also building a new terminal to replace the current one, Bean said.

Currently, baggage claim is in a separate building. The new terminal will be a larger building overall and will include a space for baggage claim, Bean said.

Alaska Airlines cut back the number of flights through the airport because of pandemic-related staffing shortages. In January, Alaska Airlines will add a third daily flight from Pullman-Moscow to Seattle and from Seattle to Pullman-Moscow, Bean said. 

Pullman-Moscow travelers are also able to fly from Boise and will soon be able to fly directly to Denver, according to the Lewiston Tribune.

The airport provides 900 jobs, $45.9 million in total earnings, a total gross domestic product of $74.7 million and a total output of $130.2 million, according to an economic impact study done by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Idaho Transportation Department.

Both WSU and University of Idaho, particularly their athletic programs, use the airport, Bean said.

Some programs like WSU football charter a plane to fly out of Pullman, while other programs fly commercially. Visiting teams, such as the Arizona Wildcats, fly directly into Pullman on their own charter, Bean said.

WSU students like sophomore geology major Darcy Carrion also use the airport. Carrion said she chose to fly out of Pullman-Moscow several times because the airport is closer and more convenient than alternatives such as Spokane. Carrion used the airport to get home to the Seattle area.

In addition to convenience, Carrion said she appreciated the views from the airport.

“If you find a really good parking spot, you can watch the planes just hit the runway and take off,” Carrion said.

The airport does not have any concessions, but it does have a vending machine with Cougar Gold cheese and a regular vending machine, Carrion said.

Part of the new terminal will include space for concessions, Bean said.

Before he interned at the airport, Boyd said he flew out of Pullman for a weekend trip to Seattle. The proximity to campus allowed his friends to drive him to the airport, and he did not encounter any problems while traveling. 

The best advice Bean has for potential flyers is to be on time.

Each airport is subject to certain rules regarding when they can allow travelers through security. Since the crew that checks bags at Pullman-Moscow also has to administer the boarding process, the airport does not accept any more checked bags and shuts down security 40 minutes prior to a flight, Bean said.

Bean said his prior experience managing the West Yellowstone Airport prepared him to direct the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.

The West Yellowstone airport is owned by the state of Montana, exists to serve a national park primarily in Wyoming managed by the Department of the Interior, and supports the communities of West Yellowstone, Montana and Island Park, Idaho.

“[In Pullman-Moscow] the dynamics are very similar,” Bean said.

The airport is co-owned by the cities of Pullman and Moscow. The airport is governed by a board consisting of Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson, Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert and one representative each from WSU, University of Idaho, City of Pullman, City of Moscow and Whitman and Latah counties, Bean said.

“This place worked very well because those relationships exist throughout the Palouse and they have for a very long time,” Bean said.