PORT ANGELES — Kenmore Air will cut back to three flights a day starting June 1.
The move, which was made to cut the number of flights that have little customer demand, was announced Wednesday.
The regional airline, which offers the only scheduled passenger flights on the North Olympic Peninsula out of William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles, currently provides five flights per day on a schedule that varies with the day of the week.
The new schedule will be the same each day.
Starting June 1, flights will leave Port Angeles for Boeing Field in Seattle at 5:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Flights will leave Boeing Field for Port Angeles at 8:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m. and 5:45 p.m.
“The change will enable the airline to offer more seats at the most popular flight times while reducing the number of relatively empty ‘deadhead’ flights necessary to service the market,” the airline said in a statement.
The cutback doesn’t mean the airline is planning to pull out of Port Angeles, said Todd Banks, president of Kenmore Air, based in Kenmore near Seattle.
“We have had to make some responsible tactical adjustments to make sure we stay healthy through this challenging economy,” he said.
“But we’ve been serving Port Angeles for seven years and look forward to continuing to do so into the future.”
The company — which provides daily scheduled and charter flights to several destinations in the state and British Columbia — can, and will, Banks said, continue to fly in and out of Port Angeles.
The Port of Port Angeles at its Monday meeting said a decline in passengers meant the airport likely would not get the 10,000 enplanements — or people taking off from the Port Angeles airport in scheduled flights — that it needs to maintain Federal Aviation Administration grant funding.
The airport receives about $1 million annually as long as it maintains its status as an FAA-certified airport through annual scheduled enplanements of 10,000 or more.
Port officials said they do not believe the airport will achieve the required number of enplanements this year.
The requirement is placed on the port, not on Kenmore. The grant funding is not given to Kenmore but goes directly to the port.
The money is used for capital projects or construction projects such as fixing taxiways, building hangars or repairing airport buildings.
“For the port, undoubtably that threshold is important, and we will continue to do our best, but having said that, we are a private business,” said Craig O’Neill, Kenmore’s marketing manager.
“We have to do what is best for our bottom line, and it has never been in the black in Port Angeles.
“We have stayed here for the benefit of people who value this air service.
“I want to make clear that we are not receiving any subsidy money.”
Without federal funding, maintaining the airport could become very expensive, port officials have said.
About a year ago, Kenmore began a partnership with Alaska Airlines that allows customers to book tickets with Alaska Airlines or Horizon Air to cities throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico on Kenmore’s website, www.kenmoreair.com.
O’Neill said he was encouraged that the agreement would benefit them in the long run.
“The benefits of this alliance are significant for Peninsula flyers,” he said.
“Folks have booked single-ticket itineraries between Port Angeles and more than 75 Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air cities across North America, and we know that some of these people from off the Peninsula would not have found their way to Port Angeles by air without the Alaska Airlines connection,” he said.
“As the economy improves, more and more people are going to discover this.”
The airline is working with the Port of Port Angeles to develop a marketing plan.
The two have been working for more than a year with Pat McCauley of InsideOut Solutions through a $360,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Small Community Air Service Development Program.
A survey of businesses was recently conducted and is currently being evaluated, port Executive Director Jeff Robb said.
That survey will be used to develop a strategy for marketing over the course of the next year.
Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.