Delta Air Lines Inc. announced new flights Thursday from Seattle to destinations in Oregon, including two daily flights to Redmond Airport.
The Redmond flights begin June 12, according to information posted Thursday on the Delta website.
The airline also announced three flights daily from Seattle to Eugene starting April 1.
“We just recently met with air carriers, and Delta,” said Nicole Jurgensen, Redmond Airport spokeswoman, “and this was kind of a surprise.”
Delta already provides twice-daily service to Salt Lake City from Redmond, she said. And Alaska Airlines already flies five times daily between Redmond and Seattle.
Jurgensen said competition between the two carriers probably contributed to Delta adding flights to Redmond.
“Delta and Alaska have had a lot of competitive action since Delta opened a hub in Seattle,” she said Thursday.
Alaska Airlines only recently increased the frequency of its Redmond flights, said Roger Lee, executive director of Economic Development for Central Oregon. Increased service to Seattle indicates the strength of the Central Oregon economy, he said.
“Airlines don’t tend to go where they don’t think they can make money,” Lee said.
A Delta spokesman in Atlanta, Michael Thomas, said the airline “clearly saw an appetite, a demand not being met by the current operator. We felt like it’s a good opportunity for Delta to continue to build up its West Coast gateway” in Seattle.
Delta has more than tripled the number of flights from its Seattle hub since 2012, according to the airline announcement. Along with the flights to Redmond and Eugene, the airline Thursday also announced nonstop flights from Seattle to five other destinations: Austin, Texas; Lihue Hawaii; Milwaukee; Nashville, Tennessee; and Raleigh, North Carolina.
Redmond Airport operations posted record numbers in 2016. The airport lost an estimated 30,000 passengers in May while the airport closed three weeks for runway resurfacing, but in the third quarter regained those and more. The airport reported a seasonally adjusted average of 59,102 passengers per month in the third quarter, according to the Central Oregon Business Index.
The airport maintained 21 daily flights into and out of Redmond in July and August for a total of more than 130,000 passengers, airport director Zach Bass told The Bulletin in December.
“We’ve absolutely grown here in the past year,” Jurgensen said.
She said Delta would fly a Bombardier CRJ700 70-seat jet for its service between Seattle and Redmond. Alaska Airlines, she said, flies a turboprop Bombardier Q400, which seats 76.
Flights to Seattle are often full, she said, an encouraging sign for air travel in Central Oregon. But, Jurgensen added, travelers should take advantage of the Seattle flights because air service is a use-it-or-lose-it proposition.