More travelers are flying in and out of Yakima

The increase in passengers has led Alaska Airlines to add a 2nd daily flight to Seattle.

By Mai Hoang / Yakima Herald-Republic

YAKIMA — Although the Yakima Air Terminal’s financial prospects have slowly improved in recent months, a full recovery could still be months or even years away, an airport official says.

Still, there was some good news for local travelers Saturday when Alaska Airlines resumed a second daily flight between Yakima and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Alaska Airlines reinstated the flight after an increase in passengers from the Yakima airport over the last few months. The Seattle-based airline dropped from three or four flights a day to one a day in April after a drastic drop in passengers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, 249 passengers boarded flights in Yakima, according to airport figures. Boardings increased to 438 and 909 in May and June, respectively.

During the first half of 2020, 17,640 passengers boarded Alaska Airlines flights in Yakima, a 47% drop from the same period in 2019.

Other revenue generators tied to air travel — including parking and rental cars — also have decreased.

As of June 30, the airport’s cumulative revenue was just over $609,000, a decrease of nearly 15% from the same period in 2019, according to figures from its owner, the city of Yakima.

The Yakima Air Terminal was able to secure a $1.286 million grant through the CARES Act, the federal coronavirus relief program. The money is distributed as reimbursement for qualified operating and expenditures, including payroll, utilities and debt payments, through the end of 2021.

So far, the grant is expected to last long enough to cover expenses for 16 to 17 months, and the money could last longer as the airport continues to see an increase in revenues from commercial airline and general aviation activity, said airport manager Rob Peterson.

Even so, some travel industry experts are not expecting activity to be at pre-coronavirus levels for two to three years, Peterson said.

“We’re definitely watching our expenses at the airport.”

As more people are starting to fly again, the airport is expanding its health and sanitization efforts, Peterson added. It has secured 12,500 masks from FEMA for distribution to passengers. But generally, most travelers have worn their own masks, Peterson said.

Flights from Yakima to Seattle depart at 5:35 a.m. and 11:10 a.m. daily. The corresponding flights from Seattle depart at 9:45 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Main runway project

The airport will close its main runway, also known as Runway 9-27, from Aug. 24-29 for a major rehabilitation project.

The airport received additional CARES Act funding for the project. Typically, it would have to cover 10% of the total cost. But the CARES Act included a provision where the Federal Aviation Administration would cover the entire cost of more than $1.4 million.

The project includes new energy-efficient lighting, asphalt crack sealing and updated markings to meet FAA standards.

General aviation flights and smaller aircraft will be able to use the shorter crosswind runway, which will be open for most of the project, Peterson said. Alaska Airlines will not be able to fly in or out of the airport during the interim because its planes need a longer runway.

Since the closure was scheduled in advance, Peterson said, there should be minimal interruptions as any booked flights should have long been rescheduled. There is no means to book new flights during the runway closure, he said.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

The Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, aerial photo released by the U.S. Coast Guard shows a diesel spill off the west coast of Washington state's San Juan Island after a 49-foot (15-meter) fishing vessel sank with an estimated 2,600 gallons (9,854 liters) of fuel on board. A Good Samaritan rescued all five crew members on the Aleutian Isle as the vessel was sinking near Sunset Point, the Coast Guard's 13th District Pacific Northwest district in Seattle and KIRO-TV reported. (U.S. Coast Guard via AP)
Coast Guard responds to small oil spill near San Juan Island

A Good Samaritan rescued all crew members on the Aleutian Isle as the vessel was sinking Saturday.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of Seattle.
West Seattle Bridge to reopen after yearslong closure

The bridge will open Sunday, Sept. 18., providing weary West Seattle travelers with a beacon of hope.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of Seattle.
Seattle hospital to refuse some patients due to capacity

Harborview Medical Center in Seattle will temporarily stop accepting less acute patients.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Red Flag Warning issued for eastern Snohomish County

The warning issued by the National Weather Service is in effect from 2 a.m. to 11 p.m.

X
Washington ferries to get $38 million to improve services

The money from the Federal Highway Administration will be used to improve the ferry service.

FILE - The Boeing 787 Dreamliner after its landing at Le Bourget airport, east of Paris, upon its presentation for the first time at the 49th Paris Air Show at the airport, Tuesday June 21, 2011. Federal regulators said Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, that they are satisfied with changes Boeing has made in the production of its 787 Dreamliner passenger jet, clearing the way for the company to resume deliveries to airline customers “in the coming days.” (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)
FAA clears Boeing to resume deliveries of 787 Dreamliner

Federal regulators said they are satisfied with changes Boeing has made in the plane’s production.

RETRANSMISSION TO CORRECT STATE - This photo provided by the Washington State Department of Transportation shows smoke from a wildfire burning south of Lind, Wash. on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. Sheriff's officials are telling residents in the town of Lind in eastern Washington to evacuate because of a growing wildfire south of town that was burning homes. (Washington State Department of Transportation via AP)
Washington town told to leave due to wildfire, 10 homes lost

An entire eastern Washington town was being evacuated Thursday because of a growing wildfire.

An EA-18G Growler taxis down the airstrip on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island during the squadron’s welcome home ceremony in August 2017. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Wood/U.S. Navy)
Judge rejects Navy environmental review of Whidbey Island Growler jet expansion

A judge ruled the Navy violated federal law in an environmental study of expanded Whidbey Island jet operations.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of Seattle.
Seattle ends COVID hazard pay for grocery store workers

The now repealed policy had required grocery stores to pay employees an additional $4 per hour.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
Washington judge overturns insurance rate credit scoring ban

The state rule prohibited insurers from using credit scoring to set rates for auto, homeowner and renter insurance.

A damaged Cathlamet ferry sits at the Fauntleroy dock in West Seattle, Thursday morning, July 28, 2022. Authorities say an automobile and passenger ferry crashed into a dock Thursday in Seattle, damaging the vessel. (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times via AP)
Ferry in Seattle damaged after crash into terminal

Authorities say an automobile and passenger ferry crashed into a dock Thursday.

King County map logo
King County OKs free transit for youth

People age 18 and under will ride buses, water taxis and streetcars for free in King County starting Sept. 1.