With summer travel in full swing, the sky has never looked so blue to Medford airport Director Bern Case.
Reasonable airfares and Medford have rarely been used in the same sentence. Fresh competition, however, has thrown an X-factor into local flight bookings.
With Alaska and American Eagle providing nonstop flights to Los Angeles International Airport, Allegiant providing service a couple of times a week, and United providing a relatively attractive alternative, prices are at least in check for what is shaping up as the busiest local air travel summer on record.
A quick scan of fares Wednesday morning revealed a one-way ticket to Los Angeles in mid-July could be had for as low as $87, according to the Alaska Airlines website. More typical, however, are round-trip offerings between $220 and $260.
An American Eagle round-trip fare, booked through CheapOAir's website, could be had for $215.40. Kayak has a United Airlines round-trip option listed for $229.
May was the airport's 32nd record month out of the past 34, with 72,298 passengers flying out of Medford. The figure surpassed last year's standard of 70,414 by 2.7 percent. Through five months the airport has seen 311,625 travelers pass through its gates, 3.2 percent ahead of last year's record pace.
Not only do five airlines vie for passengers, but larger planes have boosted seating options. There are 3,662 available seats this month versus 2,171 a year ago.
"Now, our job is to fill them up," Case said.
The 22 daily departures are up one from a year ago. Alaska, Allegiant and Delta all saw gains in May, while the combined United and United Express head counts were marginally off.
Case thinks the airport will easily surpass last year's record of 822,289 passengers, reaching the 850,000 plateau.
"Things are looking really good," Case said. "The choices and competition are all in our favor."
— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org.