Printed on: July 24, 2013

Boise flights may return

By ALEX STUCKEY
astuckey@postregister.com

Idaho Falls business leaders are exploring new options for re-establishing air service from Idaho Falls to Boise.

No airlines have offered the flight since December 2011. Whether such a route is added, though, depends on public interest, said Linda Martin, Grow Idaho Falls executive director.

"We want to satisfy the traveling public, but we need to be economical," Martin said.

The route would run from Idaho Falls to Nampa, cutting a four- to five-hour trip by car down to a one-hour flight, she said. There is a possibility of having a car or shuttle service bring passengers from Nampa to Boise.

SeaPort Airlines tried for five months in 2011 to make the route financially viable but ended the service in December of that year.

The airline was trying to fill a void created by the August 2010 departure of Horizon Air. Horizon offered the service for more than 20 years.

When Horizon announced it was canceling the service, company spokesman Dan Russo said the route was not booking enough passengers to make it profitable.

An executive air charter plane carrying eight people per flight might be the answer to that problem.

"Large planes (from Idaho Falls to Boise) didn't have the occupancy rate needed," Martin said. "You need a smaller, regional jet."

However, fewer passengers also means a steeper fare.

"We're going to try to keep a one-way (ticket) under $500 (and) try to keep a two-way (ticket) under $800," said Melvin Wagoner, AvCenter director of operations.

SeaPort offered its flights for $155 each way if booked in advance.

The charter flight would be operated by AvCenter. AvCenter has operated an executive air charter service for 30 years, Wagoner said.

AvCenter, Grow Idaho Falls and Idaho Falls Regional Airport held a meeting Tuesday to get public comment on the possible flight addition. They discussed times of day, frequency and price points, among other things.

Wagoner said another meeting likely will be held when the pricing is more firm.

"It may or it may not fit for everyone," Wagoner said. "It would fill the need for this community and expose them to executive air charter."

Reporter Alex Stuckey can be reached at 542-6755.