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Alaska Air says this is why it's ending Bellingham-Portland service

Passengers disembark from an Alaska Airlines plane arriving at Bellingham International Airport.
Passengers disembark from an Alaska Airlines plane arriving at Bellingham International Airport. The Bellingham Herald file

Alaska Airlines is ending its non-stop flights between Bellingham and Portland.

The airline informed the Port of Bellingham that it is eliminating its daily flight, with the last one scheduled for Aug. 25, said Sunil Harman, director of aviation for the port.

There were two reasons the flight was being discontinued, said Bobbie Egan, a spokeswoman for Alaska. With the planes averaging 74 percent full, it wasn't consistently performing well. The second reason is because more than 75 percent of those passengers were not going to Portland but taking connecting flights to other destinations. The airline can more efficiently get those passengers connected to other flights through Seattle and use the aircraft elsewhere, she said.

The elimination of the flight appears to be part of several changes on the West Coast. According to an article on the Sierra Wave Media website. In the article it cited Alaska officials saying the retirement of the Q400 aircraft and a pilot shortage as reasons it was ending service at Mammoth Yosemite Airport. The article noted other markets that would be impacted by service cuts included Pasco, Sun Valley, Idaho, and Eugene, Ore.

Egan said the claim about pilot shortages being a reason for leaving Mammouth is incorrect, noting that Alaska hasn't had a single pilot cancellation related to a shortage since last November. She said the decision to leave Mammouth is due to the extreme challenge of operating at that airport. Only the Q400 is equipped with the right navigational resources to land there for Alaska and they have fewer of those planes available.

A Seattle Times article also noted that Alaska Airlines was shifting some planes from busy but unprofitable Pacific Northwest routes.

Along with the Portland flight, Alaska currently offers five flights a day to Seattle from the Bellingham International Airport, as well as seasonal flights to Hawaii.

While the Bellingham-Portland flight is being eliminated, the Bellingham airport recently gained one new route. Allegiant recently started a seasonal, twice-a-week service between Bellingham and Denver. That service is scheduled to last until mid-August.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz
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