MEDFORD, Ore. — The Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport is lobbying the local community for support in adding a flight to Dallas-Fort Worth, intended to capitalize on an anticipated surge in travel when the coronavirus pandemic ends.
The Chamber of Medford & Jackson County on Thursday passed along a letter to its members from Jason Foster, Air Service & Economic Development Manager for the Medford airport. In it, Foster asks that the airport receive report for the new flight to Dallas-Fort Worth.
Foster said that the airport will be applying again for a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
"Our airport has been heavily impacted by the Pandemic like most of the industry," Foster said. "However, we have fared much better in a lot of ways. We were able to maintain every one of our direct routes, all air carriers, and 80% of our available seats."
Despite the inevitable impacts of COVID-19, the Medford airport has received some windfalls since it began in early 2020. The CARES Act allocated $15 million in funding that allowed the airport to resume several paused construction projects, and both Alaska Airlines and Allegiant added new non-stop flights in 2020.
According to Foster, the airport is looking to "expand while many are being forced to contract" in preparation for a surge in post-pandemic travel. A flight to Dallas-Fort Worth would connect to more than 100 cities in the eastern U.S. that the Medford airport can't currently reach with a single layover.
"The most important part of this is the increased accessibility," Foster said. "Medford and the rest of our region will become more accessible to businesses, and more importantly, vacationers. The hottest vacation spots after the Pandemic will be outdoor destinations."
"Destinations where those who are still uneasy can socially distance themselves and enjoy a 'normal' vacation," Foster continued in his letter. "Increasing our accessibility will allow our region to attract a larger share of those vacationers. This increase in travelers will bring a much needed economic boost to our local businesses and restaurants who have struggled over the last year."
The Chamber and Travel Medford have thrown their support behind the airport's effort, asking for letters of support from local businesses, city governments, and other chambers of commerce. The Chamber also asked if businesses or municipalities would be willing and able to commit matching grant funds.
Specifically, the Chamber said that it is looking for the following:
- Letters of support stating that the business supports the Airport’s attempt to gain service to Dallas, and if possible is willing to commit matching funds to help build the minimum revenue guarantee.
- Letters from businesses stating they support the new service and would be willing to use it once it is available.
- Letters from City, and County officials stating the city or county supports the effort and will stand behind the new service.
- Any statistics on company travel over the last 2 years would be beneficial, but letters are what we need.