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Recent decline in Idaho air travel motivating lawmakers to bring it back


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BOISE – Flights into Idaho have been reduced or eliminated in recent years and lawmakers want to change that.

Flights to Boise from Pocatello were discontinued in 2006 and flights from Idaho Falls in 2010. Lawmakers have argued that communities with fewer travel options are less attractive to businesses, according to Boise State Public Radio. Horizon Air also stopped direct flights from the Lewiston airport to Boise in 2018.

“Communities with fewer travel options are less attractive to businesses and people planning to relocate, so they hired a consultant to figure out how to lure airlines back or increase existing flights,” lawmakers argue, according to the Associated Press.

Mead & Hunt Project Manager Jeffrey Hartz, the consultant working on the project, says airlines need a financial incentive to make any plan work.

“It could be a minimum revenue guarantee, it could be a capacity purchase type of agreement like the state of Wyoming has done. It could be more direct subsidy type of aspects,” he said.

Wyoming airline officials say the Equality state pays an airline to run flights out of regional airports. The state paid $3.5 million and the six local airports paid $3.7 million to subsidize them, based on the latest data from 2018.

Hartz and his team are scheduled to work on the plan over the next three months.