The airport will host several facilities that can be expanded in the future. Beginning of jet service
WSU expects renewed economic growth as construction workers began pouring concrete Thursday for the new terminal at Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.
Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport executive director Tony Bean said the project consists of one building measuring approximately 43,000 square feet; complete with three gates, a restaurant, bar, small shops and around 450 car parking spaces with an additional 90 spaces for rental cars.
“From the moment they hit the front door of this building,” he said, “until they get on that plane, that experience matters.”
Both Pullman and Moscow, their universities and districts are contributing to the project along with federal grants and other donors. Bean said the terminal should start serving the community by December 2023.
The airport plans to repurpose the current approximately 8,000-square-foot single-gate terminal after the new construction is complete, Bean said. TThe airport could use the old building for cargo or charter flights, or sell the land for a buyer to build a private hangar.
Phil Weiler, WSU vice president of marketing communications, said the airport is the region’s connection to the outside world, and by increasing capacity, WSU will likely attract more enrollments and potential faculty members.
“Air travel is really an important way for people to find their way into Pullman and for people in Pullman to find their way to other parts of the world,” Weiler said.
Pullman is home to Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, the largest private employer in the region with locations around the world. He said that including their customers from around the world better positioned WSU and Pullman on the map in terms of travel destinations.
While Boise, Idaho and Seattle are currently the only destinations, the airport is constantly looking for partnerships with different airlines to expand its reach. Weiler said the community needs access to hubs like Denver or Salt Lake City to expand its reach east.
Alaska Airlines is currently the only airline that flies to and from the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport. WSU Pullman Chancellor Elizabeth Chilton on Tuesday explained the importance of WSU’s relationship with Alaska Airlines during a presentation promoting the industry.
“Alaska Airlines is truly WSU’s lifeline to the world,” Chilton said. “I’ve flown to Alaska four times in the last four days.”
Bean said the local airport and airline are in the process of phasing out the twin-propeller planes that normally fly to Pullman. That Q400 is replaced by the Embraer 175 Jetwhich is quieter inside, flies higher, and has a variety of seating options, including first and business class.
The airport recently completed construction of its runway to meet Federal Aviation Administration guidelines allowing larger jets to fly in and out of Pullman. Bean said that the largest jet that ever landed at Pullman was a C-17landed on Thursday, marking a new chapter in aviation for the region.
A newly installed instrument landing system will also help reduce cancellations and delays due to poor visibility, Bean said.
Before installation, the planes had to align themselves with Moscow Mountain in order to land safely. With the instrument landing system and the outlier pivoted five degrees, passengers can now expect less interference, he said.
“It’s a huge boost in people’s quality of life, everything that’s been done, everything that’s been touched,” Bean said. “It’s very, very difficult to move a runway. It is difficult. Building a terminal from scratch is difficult, but we do it because it’s what’s best for people.”