On February 6, the subject of air service in the Wood River Valley was the first item on the agenda of the Sun Valley Economic Development (SVED) Q1 Forum. SUN Airport Manager Chris Pomeroy and Carol Waller, Executive Director of Fly Sun Valley Alliance, covered everything from the biggest successes of 2017 to the challenges caused by the season’s massive snowfall. Here’s a brief recap of what was discussed at the event:
- SVED is a great asset to the Wood River Valley, dedicated to creating a thriving, diversified, year-round economy in the Sun Valley region. Our air services and the airport itself play a large role in the region’s economy. Airport activity contributes between $120 million to $190 million in economic activity to the local and state economies (2010 Idaho Airport System Plan and SVED).
- SUN is one of seven commercial services airports in the state of Idaho. In 2017, there were roughly 88,0000 enplanements on SUN commercial flights—an increase of 10% over the prior year. The majority of travelers coming through SUN were new and repeat visitors, whose spending in town generates an increase in the valley’s revenue and contributes to the vitality of the local economy.
- The increase in nonstop flights from SUN gives travelers one-stop access to 374 unique destinations, hence Fly Sun Valley Alliance’s motto, “One Stop to the World.”
- The new service by the E-175 next generation regional jet has been a big hit with passengers. Currently the aircraft serving the SUN Denver and San Francisco flights by United Airlines, Delta Airlines has announced it will being using the E-175 on a limited basis this last spring and summer on its Salt Lake City flights.
- The annual July fly-in event was the biggest and most seamless to date, and the “Great American Eclipse” in late August was the busiest SUN has ever been. Although eclipse-related vehicle traffic around the valley never really materialized, air traffic at SUN was significant. The six-day stretch before and after the eclipse went off without a hitch. To round out 2017, a new nonstop flight from Chicago landed for the first time on December 23—a great addition for bringing new visitors to the Wood River Valley.
- The outlook for the year ahead is positive. Together, FSVA and the airport are always looking for ways to improve air service to our community members and visitors. Several airport enhancement projects are on the horizon, starting with changes to the airport entrance and exit and parking lot configurations. This reconfiguration is designed to streamline and speed up the exit process. The addition of another aircraft carrier apron aircraft parking spot will help accommodate the increasing number of visitors to the valley. And of course, who know what awaits for possible expanded air service. Stay tuned as more details are always being announced!