Fog blots SeaPort’s December boardings

SeaPort boardings were 436 in December, up slightly from November, but down 17 percent from the year before.

The late December fog not only shrouded the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport, but cut into SeaPort Airlines’ boardings last month.

The regional carrier accommodated 436 passengers from Pendleton in December. That’s down 92, or 17.4 percent, from December 2009, but two factors made the difference.

A year ago, the Portland-based commuter line offered a holiday discount, which boosted December ticket sales above 500. And this year SeaPort lost three days because the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport was fogged in, which resulted in nine flights being canceled. SeaPort transported passengers via vans and refunded their fares for those missed flights.

The airline also brought 448 passengers to Pendleton last month.

“It was a very good month for customer service, the shuttle, and for filled-seat percentage,” said Airport Manager Larry Dalrymple. “While the total numbers were just slightly higher than last month, the available seats were 72 fewer.”

SeaPort made 82 landings in Pendleton, down from the usual 91, so the available seats totaled 738.

“Sixty percent of the seats were filled this month,” Dalrymple said.

Claire James, a SeaPort spokeswoman in Portland, said airline officials are pleased that passenger numbers are maintaining the record high levels reached in October.

“In the new year, we hope to witness further increase in both inbound and outbound passenger traffic,” she said, “reaching the numbers required to further discussions regarding the addition of a round trip.”

Dalrymple said the percentage of occupied seats needs to reach and maintain about 75 percent to trigger a fourth daily flight to Pendleton.

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