The southern frontier of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon is known for its diverse landscapes that serve as a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. It also plays host to a vibrant economy led by its capital Portland. Both busines and leisure stakeholders are seamlessly connected by its ample private aviation infrastructure.
With 97 commercial service, reliever, and general aviation (GA) airports and two international terminals, Oregon is well-positioned to serve the rising needs of the domestic and international private aviation market. Portland International Airport (PDX) is the state’s main terminal, accounting for 90% of the state’s passenger air travel and more than 95% of its air cargo.
These airports play a pivotal role in fostering Oregon’s economic growth by ensuring secure and efficient access to the state’s communities, businesses, recreational havens, and abundant natural resources. They connect people and commodities at the local, national, and global scales and facilitating the seamless movement of cargo and passengers across a diverse fleet of aircraft. This intricate connectivity is a linchpin of Oregon’s economic vitality.
Moreover, airports serve as crucial guardians of the safety and well-being of residents, businesses, and visitors, with daily operations that prove to be instrumental in supporting essential activities such as law enforcement, wildland fire suppression, commercial fishing expeditions, air ambulance services, search and rescue missions, freight and mail transport, corporate travel, military operations, US Coast Guard activities, real estate tours, agriculture endeavors, wildlife management initiatives, and natural resource conservation efforts.
In terms of GA terminals, Eugene Airport (EUG), located which is located in the southern region of Oregon, is the most prominent regarding the number of yearly commercial passenger boardings, with almost 600,000. Redmond Municipal Airport (KRDM), situated in Central Oregon, sits right behind EUG with roughly 500,000 enplanements. Both terminals have the required infrastructure to serve private jet owners, crew,
Another essential terminal option for general aviation is Newport Municipal Airport, located on the central Oregon Coast. Lance Vanderbeck, City of Newport airport director, shares that Oregon aviation has seen a steady flow of air traffic year-round, in alignment with increased investment in infrastructure. “Newport has seen the local general aviation community grow the last few years. Six new GA hangars have been built, increasing the total number of private hangars to 27. This also increased the locally based GA aircraft to 35,” says Vanderbeck.
Along the same lines, Benjamin Murray, president and CEO at SkyService, which operates two FBOs in the State of Oregon at Redmond and Bend, stresses the prominent role that business aviation has for the propserity and development of the economy.
“It facilitates commerce, creates jobs, promotes trade, provides local employment, promotes tourism, and assists with transportation, emergency services, and sustainable development,” says Murray.
Things to consider when flying to Oregon
Just like any other location, when choosing a destination, it is paramount to understand a series of variables to enhance the travel experience. Amongst these variables, selecting the most convenient airport choices while acknowledging the seasonal variations in a specific region can make or break the entire journey.
Shannon Randle is office manager at Coos Aviation, an FBO located at Southwest Oregon Regional Airport. She believes that the best time to visit Oregon depends on if you are planning to visit the valley, coast, or desert areas. “For the valley, spring, summer, and fall are all great. For the southern coast where we are located September –
mid-November are the best times to visit.”
For Vanderbeck, the best time to visit Newport is anytime. “The weather is beautiful in the summer with an average temperature of 65 degrees. A great way to beat the summer inland heat, while watching the power of the ocean’s King Tides is to visit during the winter – including seasonal whale watching during migration times.”
Oregon is a destination point throughout the year, with the Bend-Redmond area welcomes over four million people each year. “From paddling, hiking, cycling, and golfing in the summer to skiing snowboarding, sledding, and ice-skating in the winter, Central Oregon boasts the best in outdoor recreation,” says Murray.
Furthermore, one of the advantages of flying private is being able to land at an airport closer to your destination, thus saving valuable time in the process. Experienced companies will help crews and passengers understand which airport has the runway length, ground support, and fuel requirements for your aircraft.
Of equal importance is that companies like Skyservice have aircraft-on-ground (AOG) services to assist with any unforeseen maintenance, aiding in recommending, planning, and booking any ground transportation, accommodations, or catering requirements. “We also provide our clients with in-hangar parking options for aircraft staying overnight or longer, with on-ground support for any aircraft unscheduled maintenance requirement,” adds Murray.
While global demand for private aviation services has plateaued after the record-breaking numbers registered during the pandemic, it is safe to say that this industry continues to play a key role in local economies. Oregon is no exception, and with the capability to adapt to customer’s needs, this sector should continue to flourish while levering leisure and business travel alike.
For Coos Aviation, 2020 and Covid-19 created a definite spike in private charters and business aviation instead of commercial pax. Since then, the numbers have dropped some, but are keeping steady.
Along the same lines, Newport Airport is seeing an average of 7,054 logged aircraft operations over a ten-year period. Logged operations are only counted when FBO staff are on field form 8-5, seven days a week. “Prior to Covid, we logged over 8,000 aircraft operations. Since Covid our average number is steadily rebounding each year,” says Vanderbeck.
Yet opportunities for growth in the future remain promising, as Oregon continues to provide a strong landscape for business aviation, believes Murray. “It offers a more cost-effective location to business jet owners than neighboring states and continues to benefit from population growth, tourism, and business development.”
Murray also believes that commerce is fueling the growth in Oregon. “With the continued movement of business into the area, business aviation and general aviation will continue to grow,” he says.
The economic development related to business and leisure are connected, and business aviation can take advantage. For example Coos Aviation offers tailor-made golf charters to the renowned Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. The trips represent 90% of its charter business.
Coos Aviation is only 35 minutes north of the resort. “They fly here on charters, and we help them secure rental vehicles or facilitate a limo service that transports them to and from the FBO and Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. I would say the other 10% that isn’t golfers, are business executives, or representatives from construction companies and suppliers,” shares Randle.
Another way to welcome new clients is to provide a seamless service. This year, Skyservice Redmond received the “Building a Better Oregon” award in recognition of the positive impact it has on the local economy, neighborhood quality, and environmental friendliness of its construction and green operational initiatives. “Apart from our regular transient and tenant clients, we are welcoming new visitors all the time through our award-winning FBOs,” adds Murray.
From an airport management perspective, offering more options to clients and better overall service is a recipe for success in attracting more users and operations.
In fact, Newport Municipal Airport has seen growth in business aviation with the addition of Life Flight Network, a not-for-profit air medical transport service, Hertz rental car, freight through FedEx and UPS carriers, and investment interest in a new business park on Airport property.
“We have also seen an increase in private business charter flights into Newport. Cargo carriers FedEx and UPS have also seen an influx of more freight to Newport,” concurs Vanderbeck.
Apart from some sporadic spikes in demand for private aircraft movements and associated services, such as the surge in the US due to the Thanksgiving holidays, movements are ahead of 2019 versus the same timeframe according to WingX. Aviation analysts believe the industry should achieve sustained growth throughout 2024.
The previous is good news for Oregon and its network of airports, further because growth will provide jobs for local communities, revenues for business, and taxes for local government from those businesses.
For Vanderbeck, the future business outlook for Newport will be air services for the community. “This will help bring more travelers in wanting to visit the majestic Oregon Coast. We are also looking to add ten T-hangars for rent creating more revenue for the airport,” he says.
Business aviation then is set to continue to grow in Oregon. “According to the FAA, business aviation is the fastest growing segment of the general aviation industry,” concludes Murray. “We expect regional growth in business aviation to continue and grow as more clients experience all Oregon has to offer.”
A handful of trends will continue impacting the business aviation industry at a global scale, with Oregon being no exception. How airports and FBOs can incorporate technological advancements to provide a more streamlined service will be vital for future growth. Similarly the capabiltiy to offer SAF will ensure FBOs are better positioned to serve users and compete for years to come with other companies in the state.
Furthermore, linked to the US President’s goal of Net Zero emissions by 2050, the FAA is to invest US$92 million to help airports reach this milestone, with Portland International Airport leading the way in terms of electrification investment with a US$16 million already allocated to construct zero emissions vehicle infrastructure.
Earlier this year, Eugene Airport received US$12 million from the FAA for infrastructure enhancements to improve the airport’s taxiways, wthich connect the main runway and the secondary runway. Meanwhile, it was announced that other Oregon regional airports in Washington, Jackson, Multnomah, Morrow, Curry, Coos and Malheur counties have received roughly US$14 million jointly in federal investment for developments.
Investment in infrastructure is usually the catalyst for increased connectivity, business growth, and innovation, which ultimately should lead toward more demand in business aviation and a more diversified percentage of served aircraft throughout the state, aiming to decentralize the role that Portland has these days as the only major commercial aviation hub in Oregon.
What does the future look like for business aviation in Oregon? “As of now, it looks strong and the possibilities are endless,” concludes Randle.