ITD News
Associated Press
News Link

Sandpoint-Boise air service will take off in May

The trip between Sandpoint and Boise is about to get a lot faster.

Air service between the two communities, with connections to Seattle, is schedule to being in early May. Organizers from the Sandpoint Air Service Committee (SASC) were in Boise Wednesday (March 3) introducing the new service to state agencies and Treasure Valley-area businesses.

Provided by McCall Aviation, the new service targets business travelers making day trips between Boise and Sandpoint as well as weekend recreational tourists. Organizers say the biggest reason for bringing the service to Sandpoint is economics.

“The service offers a time and cost savings over flying into Spokane and driving to Sandpoint,” said Rich Faletto, a SASC member. “You no longer have to drive the 80 miles, which saves about one and a half hours each way, plus the cost of gas and parking.”

Along with the potential cost savings to the traveler, there is an expectation that the air service will bolster the local economy, helping businesses provide access to important customers and provide a boon for local tourist attractions.

Efforts to get air connections into and out of Sandpoint has been in the works for about three years, Faletto said.

“In no small part, it’s because of the help of people in state government and people in Sandpoint.”

Sandpoint-area business leaders, residents and stakeholders have pledged more than $250,000 toward guaranteed, pre-purchased ticket vouchers to show their commitment. Committee members also asked state agencies to forecast the number of flight vouchers they would need in the coming year. The cost of a one-way voucher is $97.50. Once service is initiated, round-trip tickets could cost as much as $350.

Initially, the Boise-Sandpoint route will be scheduled on four weekdays: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, with one round trip offered each day. McCall Aviation executives expect that business levels will increase and flights will be added as consumers become more aware of the service.

“Our expectation… our hope is that demand is much greater than one flight per day, or for a larger aircraft,” said Daniel Scott, McCall Aviation president.

This is the first foray into scheduled service for McCall Aviation, which offers charters to the Idaho and Montana backcountry. The company also holds government contracts with public agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Fish & Game for fire suppression, wildlife monitoring and other activities.

“McCall Aviation’s venture will provide an important link between north and southwest Idaho,” said Robert Martin of ITD’s Division of Aeronautics. “This air service will help fuel the state’s economic engine and provides another tool for businesses, small and large, to maintain their standing in the marketplace. For many companies and communities, aviation is the key that unlocks the door to success and growth.”

The Division of Aeronautics’ mission includes the encouragement and fostering of an aviation system that meets the current and future requirements of Idaho’s growing and diverse aviation public, Martin said.