WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Senate has now acted by a unanimous, bipartisan vote to move forward on legislation renewing and updating the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s authorities. The legislation includes a bipartisan provision pushed by Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, the TSA Fairness Act, that would restore TSA screening at, among other smaller airports, the Klamath Falls airport. This provision is important for the restoration of commercial service at the airport.
The Senate vote paves the way for the FAA bill to be considered for a full Senate debate on the Senate floor beginning this week.
“With the summer tourism season just around the corner, it’s more urgent than ever for the TSA to resume screening so that the Klamath Falls airport can restore commercial service,” said Merkley. “I’m glad the Senate is moving forward on this legislation, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get it passed and signed into law as quickly as possible.”
“I’m gratified that the reasonable expectation by Klamath Falls area residents of TSA support to make their airport a viable and secure commercial air option has gotten such significant traction in the Senate,” Wyden said. “Improved airport links are a must for the rural Oregon economy.”
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 Redmond.