Pemberton Airport’s chances of success ‘better than average’ 

Alaska Airlines interested in ‘trying a few things’ at Pemberton Airport

The director of Capacity Planning with Alaska Airlines, Bruce Wetsel, said his company is interested in experimenting with daily services in and out of Pemberton Airport and would also be prepared to base $50 million aircraft there.

Wetsel has spent a lifetime planing and scheduling airline routes around the world for various airlines and he was confident the Pemberton Airport had a "better than average chance" of succeeding.

He made it clear that there was still a lot of work to be done but he said Alaska Airlines was looking at using turbo prop aircraft and 737-700 jets.

"There’s a lot of things that need to happen before we can get close to making an announcement but I can see us starting with the Q400 turbo prop aircraft, which are the ones Horizon use," he said.

"Then maybe building up into the 737-700s as a follow on, which is a 120 seat jet aircraft and it’s super quiet.

"But we’d need to see some improvements to the airfield because we’d effectively be leaving $50 million worth of equipment there, that’s how much these planes cost.

"So with an investment of that size you’ve got to be a little bit careful on how we allocate it."

Wetsel said from what he had seen, Intrawest, and indeed the Village of Pemberton, appeared to have the right teams of people working on the project to bring scheduled air service to Pemberton.

"I worked in Los Angeles for the ‘84 Olympics and I think Australia was an even bigger success and it’s clear that places certainly get a shot in the arm whenever the Olympics comes to town," he said.

"But as an airline we’re not looking at a couple of weeks, it’s the same thing when you’re talking about other big events like the Super Bowl and New Year’s Eve.

"What I told them (Pemberton airport committee) is that our interests have got to be long term, we wouldn’t just do it just for 2010 Olympics."

The fact that Wetsel made a personal presentation to the Pemberton airport committee is a strong indication that Alaska Airlines is aware of the opportunities here.

"Obviously we’re interested enough to have made the trip up there; we don’t do that too often. We usually wait for them to come to us."

Wetsel confirmed that Alaska Airlines would likely experiment with daily services during the winter season, at least to start.

"It’d be a combination of things initially, you could do it once or twice a week and that would be on a guarantee of sale basis.

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