REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Airport is trying to manage exponential growth with infrastructure projects, while the airlines that service Roberts Field find their own ways to handle the increase in passengers. Redmond saw its first daily flight of a mainline jet, last summer, when Alaska used a Boeing 737 for the season. Last week, on the same day United launched its Redmond to Chicago direct flight, Airport Director Zach Bass says the airline quietly rolled out a larger plane for another route, "United brought in an Airbus 319, which is also a mainline, to Denver; which is awesome. It just means it’s not just one airline carrier that’s recognizing the need and growth in Redmond, and they’re adding the flights and the aircraft that can hold the capacity." The airport has only nine overnight parking spots for planes, and Bass says they are consistently full. Construction is underway to create overnight space for two more larger planes, like the United Airbus 319. It's just one of several infrastructure projects in the works.
Bass says a terminal expansion, a decade ago, was designed for future growth. But leaders may have underestimated just how much space would be needed. He says passenger numbers have increased 85% in the last five years, "We’re starting to already hit capacity, and our customers can see that through overflowing parking lots or, we can actually see it with no more parking spaces for aircraft to park overnight; our terminal hold room, where people are waiting for their aircraft, is starting to get full. So, because of the growth, we also have to, of course, look at the infrastructure of the airport to make sure it’s the right size." Crews are working to expand vehicle parking in front of the parking lot, and recently opened a credit card-only lot to ease crowding.
There is also a plan to get passengers through security checkpoints faster. "We actually have already been approved through TSA headquarters in Washington, DC for a third line, for the equipment and for the personnel," Bass tells KBND News, "I think it comes up to when the timing is available to get all that from them; it’s kind of outside our control. But, what we can control is actually reconfiguring the current TSA lane to make sure there’s enough room for that third lane." Bass believes it will be a full pre-check lane, which Roberts Field does not currently have. It won’t be ready for summer, but Bass hopes it will be set up in time for the busy holiday travel season.