Third daily Seattle flight returns to Pullman-Moscow

Fundraising for new terminal continues, nears $10 million



The Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport’s new terminal is set to be complete in 2023.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports editor

*Editor’s note: this story has been updated with accurate numbers and plane information.

The Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport had an eventful first month of the year, adding a third daily flight to Seattle and nearing their fundraising goal for a new terminal.

Alaska Airlines, which is the only airline operating at the airport, had to eliminate one of the Seattle departures and arrivals because of staffing shortages, said Airport Executive Director Tony Bean.

“I think we’ll know that we’re recovered from COVID-19 when you start seeing airline levels come back to what they were prior to [the pandemic],” Bean said.

In December, the airport filled 86% of the seats to and from Seattle. This does not include seats reserved for Alaska Airlines employees such as pilots and crew members who fly for free on their way to work, Bean said.

New terminal project

The airport has been making several major changes within the span of a decade. The airport realigned the runway and taxiway in order to meet updated Federal Aviation Administration standards in 2019. A new terminal to replace the old one is expected to be complete by the end of 2023, Bean said. 

The updated runway allows larger planes such as those commonly used by WSU Athletics to charter the football team and bring visiting teams to the Palouse, Bean said.

The terminal will include room for concessions and baggage claim inside the airport, Bean said.

Coby Boyd, WSU civil engineering graduate student, said he interned with the engineering firm Mead & Hunt, where he assisted with project management of the taxiway realignment from May 2020 through January 2021.

“From what I saw of initial architectural models, they want to include the ideas and color palettes of farmland, the wheat fields, all that stuff,” Boyd said.

The airport’s new terminal is receiving $51 million — the majority of its funding — from the FAA, Bean said. The remaining funding, a total of $10 million, will come from community fundraising. 

Bean said the airport needed $10 million of pledged funding in order to finance the project. 

The airport is matching almost $4 million worth of donations from its budget.

In total, the airport has raised $9,633,573 from local donors, Bean said. The airport still seeks to raise about $366,000 to make their $10 million goal.

“It’s hard to ask people to put money into something if you’re not willing to put money into what you already have,” Bean said.

WSU contributed $600,000 towards the airport. University of Idaho is contributing $400,000, he said.

Bean said the cities of Pullman and Moscow, which own and operate the airport, as well as Whitman County, Latah County and the Port of Whitman County are also contributing to the project.

5G and the FAA 

As national cell carriers prepared to roll out their 5G networks, the FAA raised concerns that the radio frequency on which 5G operates is dangerously close to that used by airplanes’ radio altimeters. This device helps pilots know how far above the ground they are, Bean said.

Several flights were canceled out of caution because of the rollout of 5G, Bean said.

Since then, the FAA has approved the altimeters of certain aircraft as safe, he said.

“So the issue itself, it will evolve with time, and they’ll get to a point where there’s a solution to it,” Bean said.