Salem Municipal Airport

SALEMMUNICIPAL AIRPORT “There was a brief period between 1960 and ’67, when there was a Port Agency created that took over control of the Airport,” says Paskell. “It was called the Marion- Salem-Polk Agency, Marion and Polk being the two counties around Salem. During this time, funding for the Airport was split between the three entities. They also created a seven-member Administrative Board, with ap- pointees made from the three governing bodies. That lasted until 1967, at which time the Agency was disbanded and ownership and operation of the Airport reverted back to the City of Salem, where it has remained ever since.” Because of the age of the Airport, the bulk of capital investment over the last several years has been spent on facility improvement; approx- imately $12 million, primarily through the FAA Airport Improvement Grant funding program, has gone to infrastructure updates. “I mean, we really are almost a hundred years old,” Paskell states, “and a lot of the Airport’s infrastructure is aged and tired. So, we have updated much of it in order to attract additional operators and users of the Airport, as well as to attract potential devel- opers. To put it simply, the Airport really needed a facelift - modernizing it, and bringing it up to modern, FAA operational, safety and design stan- dards. Then we are looking at how we can devel- op the remainder of our property to best meet the demand - be it aviation, non- avia- tion, or some combination of the two.” At different times, the Airport has had commercial traffic, although today, it is primarily a general aviation and corpo- rate airport with 175 home-based aircraft; including private planes, corporate charter services, and the Oregon National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility. United Airlines was the first airline at Salem; in the 1950s, it flew DC-6 aircraft. In the late 1970s through 1981 the Airport was served byAir Oregon,which was eventually acquired by Horizon Air, now part of the Alaska Air Group. In the two decades that followed, the community campaigned to bring passenger airlines back, and on June 7, 2007, Delta Con- nection came to Salemwith two CRJ-200 flights a day to Salt Lake City.However, that service also ended-on October 9, 2008. In April 2011, SeaPort Airlines, an Ore- gon-based carrier, began operation with 11 weekly flights between Newport Municipal Airport (Oregon), Salem Municipal, and Port- land International Airport. The service, too, was short-lived. Three months later, in July 2011, SeaPort Airlines discontinued its pas- senger runs at McNary Field, citing market trends and high prices that could no longer sustain profitability. “Commercial service in Salem has been hit and miss,” Paskell admits. “It has just never been sustainable here. I think that is primarily because we are inconveniently wedged between the two busiest commer- cial service airports in the state, being Port-