PASCO — Business commuters who fly to Seattle on Horizon Air for daylong business trips soon will be able to schedule an evening return flight to Pasco again.
A flight that leaves Seattle at 6:30 p.m. and lands in Pasco at 7:19 p.m. was being eliminated as of March 13 because it wasn't profitable, but Horizon plans to bring the flight back this summer, airline officials told the Herald on Wednesday.
The decision to revive the popular evening flight came less than a week after the Herald reported it was being cut, much to the dismay of business travelers who said the flight regularly is full.
"After announcing the change, we received lots of feedback from business people who commute between Seattle and the Tri-Cities and value the flights because they get them home at a convenient time in the evening," said Dan Russo, Horizon vice president of marketing and communications. "We listened and found a way to get the flights back in the schedule starting this summer."
The flight is to restart June 5 and will be available for booking March 20.
Richland's John Heaton, who works at Pay Plus Benefits, said he regularly makes day trips to Seattle and was upset that the canceled flight would mean he would have to either cut his business day short or be stuck waiting for the last flight out of Seattle, which wouldn't get him home until 11:15 p.m.
Pay Plus Benefits is a Tri-City company that provides human resource services to many Seattle companies, he said.
Heaton, however, was pleasantly surprised Wednesday when he heard Horizon officials listened to customers' complaints.
"That's incredible and it's wonderful," he said. "I'm in Seattle now and I will be on the 6:30 p.m. flight back home."
Ron Foraker, the Tri-Cities Airport acting director, agreed, saying, "That's very good news."
After news spread about the canceled flight, Foraker said there had been a "flurry" of e-mail activity, with some wondering if they could get a group together to go to Seattle to talk to airline officials, but it hadn't progressed yet beyond just considering options.
Now they won't have to choose among those options.
Horizon currently offers six round trips between Seattle and the Tri-Cities and was planning to reduce them to five because of profitability. Officials said they chose the 6:30 p.m. flight because it was a "poor performing roundtrip" that didn't accommodate very many connections to and from other flights in Seattle.
The schedule was adjusted and a flight that currently leaves Seattle just after 4 p.m. was pushed back to 5:05 p.m.
That schedule will operate as planned beginning March 13, but Horizon plans to go back to something close to the current schedule in June.
"That's an important market for us, and if our customers are complaining, we need to do something about it," said Marianne Lindsey, Horizon spokeswoman.
The summer schedule still is being settled, but Lindsey said there will be a flight that leaves Seattle around 4 p.m., lands in Pasco around 5 p.m., then leaves Pasco at 5:30 p.m. and returns at 6:25 p.m.
The popular business commuter flight will be back leaving Seattle at 6:30 p.m., landing in Pasco at 7:19 p.m. The return flight will leave Pasco at 7:40 p.m. and arrive in Seattle at 8:45 p.m.
-- Paula Horton: 509-582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org