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Friday, April 3, 2020

Bellingham International Airport introduces new flight to Denver

The flight crew behind the inaugural flight from Bellingham to Denver. // Photo courtesy of Jordan Lyle

By Emily Jackson

Flying can be stressful. Freshman Bailey Jacobson is no stranger to that fact.

“It’s stressful to pack, and the act of flying itself is so stressful because you have to go through security,” Jacobson said. “And Sea-Tac has the dogs that they sniff you with, and all you want to do is pet them and you can’t because they’re the drug dogs.”

Jacobson is from Denver, and until last month, she couldn’t fly directly home from Bellingham International Airport, she said. She had to take a bus to Sea-Tac International Airport and then fly home instead.

On May 18, Allegiant Air launched a nonstop plane route from Bellingham to Denver, Jordan Lyle, public relations specialist for Allegiant, said in an email. This is the first time Allegiant has offered the route, he said.

The temporary, nonstop flights will run twice a week from May through August, Lyle said. One-way tickets were $58 at first, but future prices may change.

Allegiant started offering the route after market research showed a high demand for nonstop flights between the two cities, Lyle said.

The airline has seen a positive response via ticket sales, social media and support from Whatcom County partners, he said.

Jacobson said she thought a lot of her fellow students would take up the offer.

“The majority of out-of-state students are from California or Colorado,” she said.

A study by Western’s Office of Institutional Research confirmed her statement. In Fall 2017, 26.2 percent of out-of-state students came to Western from California. In second place, 11.7 percent of out-of-state students came from Colorado.

Jacobson visited family in Denver during each school break this year, she said. After fall 2017 finals, she took the bus to Sea-Tac because she didn’t know anyone well enough to ask for a ride. Then bus delays almost made her miss the flight.

“I had left so early that I thought I’d be fine,” Jacobson said. “But I was so close to missing it. I was booking it through the airport.”

Luckily, she made it on time for her flight home, she said. But on the way back, she flew into Sea-Tac and missed her bus back to Bellingham.

Jacobson has flown out of Sea-Tac at weird times and waited on long layovers, she said. One time, one of her friends from Colorado had to leave at 2 a.m. to fly home.

The nonstop flights should make visits home much easier, she said.

Sunil Harman, director of aviation for the Port of Bellingham, said in an email that the route has been in the works for over two years.

“Denver was identified two and a half years ago as a route with high potential for success,” Harman said. “It had performed well previously when served by Frontier.”

A key part of Harman’s role as director is to bring air service to different markets of passengers, he said.

In this job, he communicates with airline route planners. He also projects the profit and benefit of bringing certain routes to the airport in Bellingham.

“We’re confident that this route will be popular with college students,” Harman said.

College students in Whatcom County don’t make up a huge part of passenger demand for the airport, Harman said. Still, they add to peak periods like spring break, summer break and major seasonal holidays.

Bellingham International Airport serves three airlines on a scheduled basis, including Allegiant Air and Horizon Air, a feeder subsidiary of Alaska Air, he said. The airport also serves a few charter airlines and several more airlines for pre-booked tours to Nevada.

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