A big part of attracting tourists and visitors (business travelers and conventioneers) is ease of travel and availability of direct flights. For example, we know that getting more international and domestic direct flights to and from SeaTac not only increases the likelihood that people will come here for business and pleasure, but also the potential that international businesses will locate their satellite offices here.
I was reading about Allegiant Air’s proposed move to Paine Field and – before I get an angry email from Ron Dotzauer – let me just say I have no idea whether it’s a good idea. But it reminded me of the proposed move of Southwest Airlines to Boeing Field a few years back, which also met with community opposition. There seems to be a conflict between the desire to offer more conveniently located commercial flights (like Reagan National in DC) by low cost carriers and the obvious noise and traffic issues they would cause.
The other thing you’re seeing in the news these days is a lot of extra charges by airlines to counter the fuel and other expenses that are eroding their profitability. Again, that may or may not be a good idea. The point of this post, though, is that there are a lot of issues in the airline industry that could significantly increase or decrease the cost and convenience of air travel to and from this region. It’s something we should be keeping an eye on, and we should be talking about whether there are things we can do regionally to ensure that tourists and visitors have affordable and plentiful options to come here.