SeaPort flying low

SeaPort Airlines attempts to cut costs with a new flight schedule and aircraft.

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With SeaPort Airlines’ recent marketing attempts failing to attract many passengers for its Portland-Astoria flights, the airline is making changes to cut costs.

SeaPort has changed its flight schedule and downgraded to a cheaper-to-operate aircraft.

“We’ve tried lots of different things to spur traffic to the North Coast, and we’re not out of ideas,”[SeaPort President Rob McKinney] said. “It’s very important that air service becomes sustainable. Things aren’t going as quickly as they need to go to make it sustainable.”

SeaPort charges between $49 and $149 for one-way flights between Portland and the coast. It keeps income from ticket sales and receives a subsidy payment that guarantees revenue up to a pre-set cap. This month, the cap decreases from $190,000 a month to $170,000 after starting at $200,000 in March 2009. The subsidies come from $4 million in state and federal grants secured jointly by the Port of Astoria and the city of Newport and designed to last for at least two years. While SeaPort’s two daily round-trip flights between Newport and Portland have been about half full on average, flights between Astoria and Portland are only about 20 percent full despite aggressive marketing campaigns. McKinney said to make the service sustainable, Astoria’s nine-passenger flights need to be two-thirds full on average.

Read the full story at The Daily Astorian.

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