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RDM Airport expansion among topics at recent city discussion

Jan-29-2020

Discussion of growth and future expansion at Redmond Municipal Airport were highlighted a recent presentation by Airport Director, Zachary Bass.

The airport had 1 million passengers in 2019, or 100 % growth over five years, officials said. That number that is expected to increase this year because of additional Alaska Airlines flights to San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The fourth busiest airport in the state, RDM is in position to pass Eugene, which had around 1.1 million passengers, and Medford, which had around 1.05 million.

“With the additional Alaska flights, we’re expected to get that 1.1 million this year, or close to it,” airport director Zachary Bass told a Jan. 23 Rotary Club of Redmond luncheon, where Mayor George Endicott and Chuck Arnold, economic development and urban renewal director for the city, also spoke. “So within the next two years, we’re hoping that instead of No. 4, we’re No. 2 (behind only Portland).”

Delta Air Lines is expected to add additional flights to Seattle and Salt Lake City onto the ones it has during 2020, Bass said. A seasonal United Airlines flight to Chicago will also return from June through November.

“As you hear me talk right now, Delta and Alaska are in a battle over Seattle space,” he said. “I won’t get into all that, but it’s good for us. You’re seeing those price drops, competition is good.”

Bass said 82 % of Central Oregon airline passengers now fly out of Redmond, instead of driving to Portland or another city.

The airport, which has 350 employees, most of them working for private companies, added two spots for commercial planes to park over the summer, and Bass said they are already full. That means 11 planes stay in Redmond overnight.

The airport is building a 42,000-square foot operations building to store snow removal and maintenance equipment. In addition, fixed-base operator Leading Edge Jet Center is building a $6.5 million building, as well at least one 30,000-square foot private hangar. Bass said another company is looking to build a separate 20,000-square foot hangar.

A new 500-space parking lot and car rental maintenance facility are also going in, Bass said. The car rental facility will take 100,000 cars that are getting gas and being washed out of city traffic each year, while cutting the time it takes to get a car ready for another customer in half.

The next big airport project is to rehabilitate its taxiway over the next four-to-five years, which will wrap up paving projects that have also included runways, Bass said. After that, projects more noticeable to the public will start.

Among those is a terminal expansion, which is expected to break ground in the next three years, Bass said. The project is expected to cost $40 million, on top of a $42 million expansion a decade ago.

“We do not know what it looks like yet, we’re going to do a terminal area plan over the next eight months,” he said.

The $300,000 study will show officials the best way to phase the project, as well as how financially feasible it is, Bass said.

Further out, the airport is looking at a 3,000-foot runway extension toward the fairgrounds. While the airport is looking for a grant to allow it to get service to San Jose, and is pitching service to Dallas and Minneapolis, the longer runway would allow planes coming from the East Coast and beyond to land in Redmond.

“The extension of the runway will open up everything — Mexico, even Hawaii,” Bass said. “We had Hawaiian Airlines come and talk to us…the problem was we knew our runway was only 7,000 feet long. They said, thanks, they’ll get back to us when it’s longer.”

The runway extension is expected to be another $40 million project, and will need additional federal approval, Bass said.

Bass added that the airport gets no money from the city, and all money it gets comes from the Federal Aviation Administration or user fees the airport charges.