Oregon Delegation Applauds TSA’s Return to Klamath Airport

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Congressmen Greg Walden and Peter DeFazio today applauded news that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will restore screening services at the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport in Klamath Falls, clearing the path for commercial service to return to the airport.

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 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, Merkley, Wyden, Walden and 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 require 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 last week, and passed the U.S. Senate earlier this week with strong bipartisan support as part of a broader aviation bill.

“Restoring commercial service to the Klamath community will greatly enhance transportation options for local residents, businesses, and visitors from around the world who want to experience the beauty of Crater Lake and the Klamath area,” said Merkley. “Transportation links like these are critical for our rural economies to take off, and I’m pleased that the TSA has recognized that restoring screening and enabling commercial service to return is the right path forward.” 

“The return of commercial air service to the Klamath Falls area provides a turbocharge to the local economy and the community, which deserves tremendous credit for making such a strong case to achieve this victory,” Wyden said. “I am gratified that the TSA has recognized the merit of restoring screening at the airport, an essential link both for rural Oregonians and travelers wanting to visit our state.”

“The TSA’s initial decision to stay out of Klamath Falls didn’t make any sense for the local economy or the country’s safety. But an outcry from the community and our bipartisan work in Congress forced them to change their minds. I’m glad the TSA is finally going to do the right thing so that safe, reliable air service can return to Klamath Falls,” Walden said. “This decision will help grow the local economy, attract tourism, and support the national security mission at Kingsley Field. It will allow our community to have the air service we deserve, and our country to have the security we demand. It’s just common sense.”

“I’m glad that the Transportation Security Administration  finally listened to reason,” said DeFazio. “The decision to restore TSA screening services to Crater Lake-Klamath Regional airport gives Oregon’s travelers the same security and peace of mind that other travelers across the country are granted. This common sense decision will not only help the Klamath regional area and other rural communities like it reopen airports and restore access and economic benefits for their citizens, but will also make our entire airline security system safer.”

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 Redmond.