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Redmond Airport travelers will be boarding larger planes to some popular summer destinations

Could be a 180-seat Boeing 737, or an Airbus A321

(Update: Adding video, comments from airport Manager Zach Bass)

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Redmond Airport will be welcoming larger planes this summer on some flights to its most popular destinations, according to airport Manager Zach Bass.

"Normally, we run a regional 76-seater, and what we're hearing from our airlines, what we're seeing for the next six months and over the summer, is upgrading to a 737-800, an Airbus A321," Bass said Tuesday

The upgrades include moving to Boeing 737 aircraft, meaning going from the current planes' 76 seats to 180 seats. They're also known as "mainline" planes, or commercial-size planes you would typically see at an international airport, instead of a regional one.

The higher capacity will be on flights with higher demand, cities frequented by travelers to and from Central Oregon.

"We're going to start seeing those larger aircraft up to six or seven times a day (on flights to) Salt Lake City, Denver, Seattle, LA, San Francisco," Bass said. If you're flying to Denver, you're probably going to be flying on a mainline 737 with 180 seats, instead of maybe that 76-seater your used to seeing."

Redmond Airport currently offers nine direct flights on five different airlines, with Seattle being by far the busiest destination for Central Oregon flyers.

Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Salt Lake City and Phoenix are the top five destination cities out of Redmond Airport, as of March 2022. Los Angeles came in at No. 6.

Due to the current pilot shortage, Bass doesn't see direct flights to Portland, which were suspended in 2021, coming back any time soon.

"Most of that was a byproduct of Covid and the pilot shortage," Bass said. "But in speaking with Alaska Airlines just a few weeks ago, they are looking to increase regional traffic to Portland. Now, that probably means 2024 for Redmond. But it's a conversation we keep having with them, and we're hoping to come back with that connection."

Speaking of changes, the Redmond Airport is set to get a $200 million make-over over several years, in part due to a massive $1.2 trillion-dollar infrastructure bill signed by President Biden in 2021.

As for when airport visitors can see their first signs of the project, Bass says it still may be a while, with the summer of 2024 being the earliest projected time customers will see groundbreaking for a terminal expansion.

"We asked our customers if they want to fly out of RDM," Bass said. "There's a project page they can give us any input they have or things they might like to see. But as we get through this design, we'll be speaking with customers and the media and letting people be aware of what the plan is, so they can give their input."

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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