Merkley, Wyden, Walden, DeFazio Introduce Bipartisan ‘TSA Fairness Act’ to Bring Commercial Air Service Back to Klamath Falls Airport

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Representatives Greg Walden and Peter DeFazio today introduced the bipartisan Treating Small Airports with Fairness Act, or ‘TSA Fairness Act,’ which would restore commercial air service to the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport by bringing back federal TSA screening at the airport.

“The Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport is a critical transportation link for the region, and it’s unacceptable for bureaucrats 3,000 miles away in D.C. to stand in the way of restoring commercial service,” said Merkley. “It’s time for the TSA to restore screening services in Klamath Falls and ensure that local residents, businesses and Kingsley Field have the air travel options that are so essential in today’s interconnected economy.” 

“Oregonians who live in and around Klamath Falls should be able to count on TSA to work for them just as it does for larger cities,” Wyden said. “Our state’s rural economy depends heavily on the viability of its local airports and our bipartisan bill would require TSA to be a better partner in helping ensure essential connections for rural communities.” 

“Since TSA won’t restore screening to Klamath Falls on its own, Congress needs to pass a new law forcing them to do so. The people of Klamath County deserve safe, reliable air service,” said Walden. “Returning commercial air service would give greater flexibility to residents, tourists, and business travelers, and it would help grow jobs in rural communities in Klamath County and across the region. I’m proud that this bill will help accomplish that, and I look forward to moving it through the U.S. House.”   

“Travel is difficult enough for rural Oregonians without the added burden of worrying about safety,” said DeFazio. “Travelers from Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport deserve the same security and peace of mind that other travelers across the country are granted. It’s imperative that TSA resume operations at this airport and restore screening services to the people who depend on this airport for their travel needs.”

The Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport has been working to restore commercial service since carrier SkyWest left the airport in June 2014. Last fall, 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 stopped providing screening services at the airport after SkyWest’s departure. Despite repeated calls from the local community and from Oregon’s congressional delegation for the TSA to resume service so that PenAir can begin commercial flights, the federal agency has thus far refused.

The TSA Fairness Act would require the TSA to restore screening services to any airport that lost service after January 1, 2013 and that has a guarantee from a commercial airline to resume service within one year.

The Crater Lake-Klamath airport is a key infrastructure link for Crater Lake National Park, which is one of Oregon’s premier tourist destinations; the U.S. Military, which trains all F-15 pilots at the Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base adjacent to the Crater Lake-Klamath airport; and for the entire Southern Oregon community. Without commercial service from Klamath Falls, many Southern Oregon residents are forced to drive several hours each way to access commercial flights from Medford or Bend.

The legislation was introduced in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives today. In addition to Merkley, Wyden, Walden and DeFazio, the bill is cosponsored by Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Will Hurd (R-TX), and Derek Kilmer (D-WA).