MEDFORD, Ore. -- The Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport and the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport are getting a $500,000 funding boost. It comes from the Rural Oregon Aviation Relief (ROAR) grant funded by the Oregon Department of Aviation established to help smaller communities keep air service.
Right now The Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport has a handful of airlines that fly directly to a few cities.
"It would be nice if there were a few more flights in and out of our small airport but it's nice that we have two [to Salt Lake City] a day," said flier Rawlings Lyle.
"There aren't many options but it is what it is," added Jennifer Baker
Flier Kapali Kiaha said Medford is "getting bigger so there's more people coming in and out and it would be nice if there were more flights."
Airport Director Jerry Brienza hopes to change that with the ROAR grant money.
"We're looking at bigger cities like Dallas and Chicago that on paper make a lot of sense for us but it's still a little difficult for the airlines to pull the plug because they have other major cities that they could be putting this equipment in," added Brienza. "[The grant is] dangling the carrot out there."
Brienza said the airport is looking to add more cities to its flight list and more airlines. He said the grant will allow the Medford Airport to pay those airlines if that service to a specific city doesn't make as much money as planned.
"We're hoping not to spend a dime of it but it's really nice to have it in our own back pocket to present to them when they are considering possibly two cities similar in size and which city they are going to go to. We can say we have this money for you to mitigate your risk," added Brienza.
Along with that $500,000, Brienza said local businesses and the community have come together and put in $50,000. The airport is also asking for $200,000 in its budget. That hasn't been approved yet.
While the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport got the $500,000 grant to try to expand services, the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport wants to use that money to restore commercial air service.
Airport Business Manager Linda Tepper said the airport used to have commercial flights until PenAir filed for bankruptcy in 2017.
She believes getting another commercial airline would be great for the Klamath Basin, not just for leisure travel but for business and economic growth as well.
"It certainly helps our community when it comes to economic development recruitment so those companies that might be looking to locate in Klamath Falls would certainly find air service a convenient bonus to have here in the community,” added Tepper.