Airport remodel nets Pasco ‘Port of the Year’ honors

The Port of Pasco is Washington’s 2017 Port of the Year for its $42 million makeover of the Tri-Cities Airport.
The Port of Pasco is Washington’s 2017 Port of the Year for its $42 million makeover of the Tri-Cities Airport. Port of Pasco

The Port of Pasco is Washington’s Public Port of the Year for 2017.

The Washington State Public Ports Association honored Pasco for the successful completion of a $42 million remodel of the Tri-Cities Airport.

It is the first time Pasco has received the honor. Randy Hayden, the port’s executive director, called it “very meaningful”.

The Port of Pasco is governed by a three-member board of commissioners. It employs about 50 people and operates the airport as well as two industrial centers and supports economic development efforts in Pasco.

The three-year airport project doubled the terminal’s size to 110,000 square feet and established a modernized concourse for arriving and departing travelers.

The airport gained new gates, a restaurant and a bar, coffee and gift shop.

The project was driven by rapid growth in demand. This year, Pasco is on track to exceed 400,000 boardings, breaking the 2016 record of about 376,000.

Security screening and passenger seating areas expanded too. The project also updated the business side of the terminal, including ticketing, baggage claim and handling, and the car rental area.

The new terminal made its public debut in January with a ribbon cutting ceremony, music and speeches by visiting dignitaries, including U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

The Tri-Cities Airport is the fourth largest commercial airport in the state, serving 850,000 people within a two-hour drive.

It is served by Delta, Alaska/Horizon, United and Allegiant airlines, providing 45 flights daily to Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Portland, Denver, San Francisco, Minneapolis.

Allegiant provides seasonal service to the southwest, including Los Angeles, to serve leisure travelers.

The port issued $25 million in revenue bonds to support the local share of the project. The Federal Aviation Administration provided a $20 million improvement grant.

The bonds are being repaid over 20 years with fees paid by airlines, passengers, car rental companies and other airport users.

The port association also recognized the success of the Pasco Processing Center and the Osprey Pointe Business Park.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell