Tri-Cities Airport's Boardings Report for 2017 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Tri-Cities Airport's Boardings Report for 2017

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PASCO, WA - After struggling with flight cancellations from the worst winter in decades and loss of flights from an industry wide pilot shortage, Tri-Cities Airport 2017 passenger counts managed to remain flat for the year. In fact, Tri-Cities Airport showed modest growth of 1,000 additional passengers.

Bad winter weather led to a number of flight cancellations in early 2017. The pilot shortage started in the summer and led to cancellation of the airport's Portland flight and utilizing smaller planes on some flights to Seattle. These factors combined to drive down the number of available seats for the year. The number of available seats is a measure of the planes flying out of Tri-Cities Airport. When a flight or route is canceled, or when an airline uses a smaller plane to fly a particular route, it will reduce the number of seats. United Airlines added seats when it started flying larger planes to Denver, Colorado, which meant that the total number of available seats went down from 477,623 seats in 2016 to 442,306 in 2017.

Airport Director Buck Taft said, "While we did not grow at the rate we hoped, I think we saw a lot of positives. 2017 was still a record year and we had 8% fewer seats than we had in 2016. That is 8% fewer chances to increase our enplanements but we did it. Thanks to our travelers, we were able to keep our remaining planes full."

Enplanements are a measure of passengers boarding flights at an airport. In 2016, enplanements at Tri-Cities Airport were 375,758 and in 2017 grew to 376,481, a 0.2% growth rate. The Tri-Cities Airport averages 2-3% growth each year.

"I think we are still seeing a strong Tri-Cities economy. People still flew in record numbers, but sometimes we just did not have a seat for them," said Jean Ryckman, Port of Pasco Board President. "The Port works hard to increase available seats, whether that is recruiting a new route, adding new flights on existing routes or using larger planes for an existing flight. More seats means more options for our passengers and that is important to us."