Yakima leaders on airport: 'We are going to have competitive fares'

Yakima leaders on airport: 'We are going to have competitive fares'
YAKIMA, Wash. -- The Yakima Airport has been losing money for years. Yakima leaders met today with two new consultants hired to turn things around.

While planes continue to take off, the Yakima airport budget is grounded. In last four years, Yakima has seen nearly $500,000 in operating losses and more than quarter percent decline in passenger boarding. The city points to the economy and to itself.

One of Yakima's new consultants toured the airport, to see its strengths and flaws. Pointing to expanding security and of course, air traffic, or lack thereof.

In a study session at City Hall, council members, the city manager and both consultants talked about the weak spots. Like the flight schedule, cost and convenience.

"Are we competitive on a schedule right now," asked airport consultant Kent Myers. "I don't think we are really that competitive. We need to change that."

Myers says strengthening the partnership with Alaska Airlines comes first. However you won't likely see any change for at least six months.

Myers says one option is to use smaller airplanes that fly more often. That would shorten the layovers in Seattle.

Yakima has several ideas for cutting costs: Wait to hire a new airport manager, use entry level employees to replace retirees and changing security. All could save more than $300,000 by 2014.

Each change would take time, money and patience. But, the changes might eventually get you from A to B quicker and cheaper.

"I'm not saying we are going to have cheap fares," said Myers. "We are going to have competitive fares."

Promises that are still up in the air.

Yakima's airport consultants say the terminal could use some remodeling. However, those upgrades are among the last steps in the improvement plan.