Merkley Celebrates First Flight Back to Klamath Falls After Return of TSA Screening

KLAMATH FALLS, OR – Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley joined the Klamath Falls community and transportation officials from around Oregon to celebrate the re-opening of commercial flights between Klamath Falls and Portland. The celebration follows a successful battle to get the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to return to the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport.

Merkley flew on the first flight operated by the new carrier, PenAir, between Portland and Klamath Falls. Upon arrival in Klamath Falls, the plane was greeted by a water cannon salute and Merkley joined airport officials and community leaders for a public celebration.

“Seeing that PenAir plane on the tarmac is a beautiful sight. Having commercial air access at Klamath Falls is essential to our tourism and manufacturing economies and to the long-term future of our air base,” said Merkley. “It truly took a team effort to make this happen, and the Klamath community deserves huge credit and congratulations for their successful work to return a commercial carrier to this airport.”

The Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport has been working to restore commercial service since carrier SkyWest left the airport in June 2014. In the fall of 2015, the city of Klamath Falls received a commitment from Alaska-based carrier PenAir to bring back commercial service with daily flights to Portland. However, the TSA had stopped providing screening services at the airport after SkyWest’s departure. After the TSA initially refused to bring back federal screening at the airport, the Oregon congressional delegation became involved, pressing the agency to reconsider. 

In February of this year, Merkley, Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Greg Walden and Peter DeFazio led a bipartisan, multi-state coalition of Senators and Representatives to introduce the Treating Small Airports with Fairness, or “TSA Fairness,” Act, which would have required the TSA to restore screening services at airports like Klamath Falls and other small airports around the country facing similar circumstances. The TSA Fairness Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives in a unanimous vote in April, and passed the U.S. Senate that month with strong bipartisan support as part of a broader aviation bill. Shortly thereafter, the TSA voluntarily agreed to return screening to Klamath Falls.

The new service will provide daily flights between Klamath Falls and Portland in both directions.