Airport receives grant for service to Denver

Officials pitched service idea to different airlines at conference; grant money, community donations will fund project



Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport received a $780,000 federal grant to help finance service to Denver.

ANDREA GONZALEZ, Evergreen reporter

Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport received a grant from the United States Department of Transportation that will help the airport bring service to Denver.  

Tony Bean, PMRA executive director, said the airline that will provide service to Denver is United or a United-affiliate carrier. 

The first two years are critical to getting the route sustainable for the future, he said. If the airline cannot make a profit in the market, then the airline will pull from the revenue guarantee. This acts as an insurance policy to ensure the airline does not lose profits. 

He said the Small Community Air Service Development Program grant is financed by oversight fees from foreign air carriers. The grant funds the airport’s program, which allows smaller communities to attract air carrier service. 

He said smaller communities have a harder time making a case to an air carrier for service because there is not a lot of data on the market. 

Jenny Ford, Moscow Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the project has been a collaborative effort between Moscow Chamber of Commerce, Pullman Chamber of Commerce and PMRA.

Ford said officials attended the annual Air Service Development Conference where they advocated for the airport by pitching to different airlines. 

Bean said the PMRA received $780,000 from the federal grant. The money is available to the airport until 2026. The airport has also received about $325,000 in local funding, which helped the airport receive the federal grant. 

The airport had to make the case that they are underserved, put together a strategic plan and have a legal sponsor, Bean said. The sponsors were the City of Pullman and the City of Moscow. 

The grant’s requirements include having an airport that is no larger than a small hub airport. For example, the airports in Spokane and Boise are not small enough, but PRMA is. 

Other requirements are that the airport could only receive one grant at a time, and it cannot have received a grant to support the same project more than once in a 10year period, Bean said.

Ford said the airport has not had a direct connection that travels east. The Alaska airline that currently operates at the airport mainly goes west. 

Because Denver is a hub, it is easier for people to get to other destinations on the East Coast from Denver rather than Seattle, she said. Even though there are lots of connections to Seattle, people do not necessarily want to go west in order to go east, she said. 

She said the airline to Denver will provide access and choice for people to get in and out of the area in a timely manner.

This may also increase tourism to both Whitman and Latah County, Ford said. It will also make it easier for people that want to come to the area to see their kids or to relocate, she said. 

The new service would be a win for communities in both Latah and Whitman County, Ford said.