Alaska Airlines slowly pulling out of Walla Walla

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Keeping the runway busy at Walla Walla just got harder and more expensive. There's no guarantee Alaska Airlines will stay. It's a gamble port commissioners are willing to take.

Port Commissioner President, Paul Schneidmiller said, "We don't want to go by the way of the Moses Lakes and the Port Angeles and Pendletons where in that case Horizon Air has pulled out of those markets."

So far the port waived more than over $40,000 dollars in annual aircraft rescue firefighting fees to the airline. Another $50,000 in rental and facility fees are on the chopping block. However, the FAA would need to approve that.

"The port budget is very healthy we have good revenue, he said."

Alaskan Airlines sent us this statement via e-mail:

"We are grateful to the Port of Walla Walla Commissioners for extending the fee savings to us. With that said, our ability to offer the schedule that we do in Walla Walla depends on support of our customers in the community. We evaluate all of our markets carefully and provide the level of service the market demands so that we can provide low fares to all of the markets we serve."

-Marianne Lindsey, spokesperson, Alaska Airlines

About 64 thousand passengers rely on service through this airport each year. Service is crucial to the vitality of the region to maintain airline service.

Schneidmiller continues, "Our wine alliance here, Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce have been very supportive so we think we have - we're very optimistic."

Still, with two afternoon flights already cut, the rally to save the service could be short lived. And many feel it could be the beginning of the end.

"It's basically a use it or lose it type of mentality," Schneidmiller said.

If it's lost the nearest option would be an hour away in the Tri-Cities.