After telling Newport Mayor Mark McConnell that SeaPort Airlines may be pulling out of Newport because of passenger counts and high fuel prices, and partly because NOAA “completely refuses to use our air service,” a NOAA official has responded, “we do use SeaPort.”
In a news release today, an official with NOAA claimed the agency does, in fact, use SeaPort Airlines for flights in and out of Newport and they may use SeaPort more “if it meets our schedule and transportation needs.”
In the release to the media NOAA’s David Hall said they have chartered two flights with SeaPort and that employees and NOAA contractors both have used the airline. Hall added ” it is worth noting that we have only just started moving into the new NOAA facility in Newport, which won’t be fully operational until July.” July is when SeaPort CEO Rob McKinney indicated in his letter to Mayor McConnell that SeaPort might be pulling out.
SeaPort critics have long speculated that SeaPort’s paltry 3 to 4 passengers per flight on an aircraft as expensive as the Pilatus PC-12 is a no brainer money loser. Those same critics say airline service between Newport and Portland via Salem would likely turn a profit if the aircraft used was something more modest like a Piper Chieftain. If flies a little lower and slower, but the flight times are within ten minutes of the Pilatus PC-12. Kenmore Airlines in the Seattle area uses Chieftain’s extensively to serve their many and varied routes throughout the Puget Sound area and they’ve been in business for over 50 years.
Meanwhile Newport Airport Manager Gene Cossey told the Newport City Council he’s trying to track down who at NOAA would have said, or even inferred, that NOAA would not be using SeaPort.Share on Facebook