Why Have Plans for a Wenatchee-to-SFO Nonstop Flight Stalled?

Five years ago, in 2018, it seemed hopeful that a nonstop commercial flight from EAT to SFO (Pangborn to San Francisco) would actually happen.

The United States Department of Transportation awarded a grant of $750,000 to match the upswell of community support for just the idea of the Wenatchee Valley connecting to the Bay Area. Almost 100 local individuals and businesses pitched in to raise over $400,000 to support the goal.

The pandemic and the recent retirement of many commercial pilots (creating a shortage) put a large bump in the quest for a non-stop flight.

In December of 2022, Newradio 560 KPQ reported that the Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority asked for an extension of the $750,000 federal grant to keep the dream alive.

At the time of last winter’s article, there was optimism that the nationwide pilot shortage would ease by summer.

This hope was dimmed by Forbes Magazine's recent report: 

‘We now anticipate a peak shortfall in 2026 of about 24,000 pilots instead of a peak of close to 30,000 once predicted in the wake of COVID-19 early retirements. That still represents about 23% of the pilot workforce, so the problem is far from eliminated.’ -Forbes

 

Port Authority CEO Jim Kuntz told KPQ in late 2022:

'It'll be important to find out what other similar size airports (Walla Walla & Yakima) are doing to beef up business as the pilot shortage relaxes” And that “airports that are offering revenue guarantees to airlines will be the first to get service.' -Jim Kuntz via KPQ

The very same kind of guarantee, Alaska Airlines recently demanded, in the amount of $500,000 - if it can't cover the cost of Wenatchee’s 2nd daily flight to Sea-Tac Aiport.

Pangborn Memorial Airport (via Facebook)
Pangborn Memorial Airport (via Facebook)
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If you or your business would like to support a non-stop flight from EAT to SFO, or help ensure the 2nd daily flight to Sea-Tac click this link to pledge & invest with FlyWenatchee.com

For the foreseeable future, any planned flight to the Bay Area will require a flight, shuttle, or drive across the Cascades to Sea-Tac airport.


SOURCE INFO: Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority, Forbes Magazine, Newsradio 560 KPQ

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