Tri-City's Travel Hopes Ride on Horizon

Beginning April 8, Horizon Air will begin using 74-seater turboprop Q400s for some of its seven daily flights to Seattle.

And aviation experts say the availability of discount air carriers in Spokane has also hurt efforts to get better Tri-City service.

Like many Mid-Columbians, Rick and Shelley Weigel of Kennewick say they don't mind driving 2 1/2 hours to Spokane to catch a flight because the savings often are substantial.

Passenger Susan Waldo agreed. She saved $600 by flying out of Spokane with her husband to Little Rock, Ark., in January 2006.

Kris Watkins, president of the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau, is concerned that tourists visiting other Northwest cities forgo a trip here because of a lack of available airline seats and they don't want to drive too far.

Adrian said TRIDEC's Air Service Task Force, a group of business and community leaders, continue to work with airlines.

Horizon reduced fares to Seattle and Portland by more than 30 percent in October 2005, he said.

Boyd said airlines have no reason to reduce the Tri-City fares because the passenger loads hover around 72 percent to 87 percent on flights.

But he also believes Tri-City passengers are not being gouged. Airfare prices are reflecting the true costs of air travel and what the market can afford, he said.

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