It's been up and down for the airline industry (no pun intended) during and post the COVID-19 pandemic.  Regional airports felt some of the down as airlines began cutting some flights to smaller airports to help save money.  Tri-Cities lost flights to Chicago when United Airlines announced they were scaling back.

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Some of the smaller airlines, like aha! (and parent company ExpressJet) filed for bankruptcy less than a year after announcing non-stop flights from Tri-Cities airport to Reno, NV.  The airport in Pasco had United, Delta, Alaska Air, Avelo, and Allegiant operating roughly 12 to 15 flights a day in a community that is still growing.

That is about to change

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Last summer, August to be exact, it was announced that the airport would receive funding (to the tune of $750,000) to pursue non-stop service to the second busiest airport in the Country, Dallas-Fort Worth.  It is interesting to note that Dallas-Fort Worth is the largest hub hub for American Airlines.

For those that don't know, hub airports are used by airlines to concentrate passenger traffic along with airline operations.  Alaska Air's closest hub to us is Seattle, Delta's is Salt Lake City, etc.  Hubs help regional airports, like Tri-Cities, be able to secure flights to major cities using the hub as a connection between destinations.  Major airlines, like American, have multiple hubs around the Country.

American Airlines...Welcome to the Tri-Cities!

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It was announced on July 27th that American Airlines would officially begin non-stop service from the Tri-Cities airport in February of 2024.  The destination though is not Dallas-Ft. Worth, but to one of their other hubs, Phoenix, Arizona's Sky Harbor International Airport.  This is a huge announcement for the Port of Pasco (who operates the airport) and for our community.

Benton and Franklin Counties now boast over 300,000 residents (as of July 1st, 2022 numbers from the U.S. Census).  The need for flights to and from larger areas will continue to grow.  The Phoenix flights, which begin February 15th to be exact, are a huge step in that direction.

What Else Do We Know?

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Flight from Tri-Cities will leave at 3 pm daily and arrive in Phoenix at 7 pm, taking into account the time change.  The return flight will leave Phoenix at 11:20 am and srrive in Tri-Cities at 1:20pm.  Buck Taft, the airport Director, said “If the community uses this route, the airline will have every incentive to add more.”   Can anyone say 'Fly to Phoenix and Dallas-Ft. Worth will come'?

Sports fans will love the direct flights to the heart of Cactus League spring training, make it a piece of cake to see the Seahawks play the Cardinals, and maybe a weekend jaunt to catch the Kraken take on the Coyotes.  Phoenix is also a culinary destination featuring a number of high end restaurants from chefs like Bobby Flay and other Food Network stars.

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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff

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