EAST WENATCHEE — A second commercial airline is coming to Pangborn Memorial Airport on March 1.
SeaPort Airlines will begin hauling passengers and limited freight to Portland after more than a decade of single-carrier service by Horizon Air, which flies only to and from SeaTac and here.
The Portland, Ore., company will fly three flights a day Monday through Friday from Wenatchee to Portland, with brief stops in Yakima. Three return flights daily from Portland to Wenatchee are scheduled weekdays. One flight to Portland is scheduled for Saturdays.
Tickets sales begin Sunday with an introductory fare of $69 each way. Non-discounted fares will range from $89 to $179.
“Now it’s easier to do business in Portland,” said Pangborn director Greg Phillips. “And visit family. And catch connecting flights to distant destinations.”
On the 95-minute flights, SeaPort will fly the 9-seat Cessna 208 Caravan, a single-turboprop short-haul regional airliner. The planes arrive at a private terminal at Portland International Airport, with a shuttle service between the arrival and main terminals.
Flights from Wenatchee to Yakima to Portland “reflect our continued focus on connecting mid-sized communities with major metropolitan areas,” said Rob McKinney, president of SeaPort Airlines. In the Northwest, the airline also serves Pendleton and Coos Bay, both in Oregon, and Seattle, along with short-haul flights between cities in Tennessee, Texas, Kansas, and Arkansas.
SeaPort also operates in Alaska under the name Wings of Alaska.
Phillips said discussions with SeaPort began back in February and then — “out of the blue” — the airline contacted Pangborn two months ago. “They studied the markets, got in touch with us and said they were coming,” said Phillips.
The new airline service caps the tenure of Phillips, who leaves Jan. 25 after 18 months on the job. He resigned Dec. 6 to accept the top position at the airport in Vail, Colo.
Pangborn hasn’t been served by two passenger carriers in more than 20 years. United Express flew five flights daily from 1988 to 1991 and then again from 1995 to 1998, but pulled out under heavy competition from Horizon Air and its parent company Alaska Airlines.
Prior to that, Spokane-based Cascade Airways flew a variety of flights at Pangborn from 1981 to 1985, but faded when Horizon began service in 1984. Both airlines served Pangborn for about a year before Cascade left the facility.
“We’re pleased with SeaPort’s announcement,” said Port of Chelan commissioner Craig Larsen. “Portland is one of our most frequently requested routes and these flights will add significant new options for our travelers.”
Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines, flies three trips a day between Wenatchee and Seattle in 76-seat planes.
But Phillips said he doubted SeaPort’s service would greatly affect Horizon’s business. “If you want to fly to Portland, you now have six options to get there instead of three,” he said. “It’s a nice new set of choices for our travelers.”
SeaPort offers passengers free coffee, tea and hot cider, along with Voodoo Doughnuts, a popular treat made by a Portland doughnut company.
Mike Irwin: 665-1179