traffic controllers keep things in sync
Stewart is the air traffic control manager at the Walla Walla
Regional Airport. But last summer he had more ground vehicles
and airplanes to keep track of.
“For four months, during the
runway construction, we had to keep airplanes and vehicles
on the move without interfering with each other,” Stewart
said, “and with the main runway closed, it was a real
Stewart said that most days during the May-to-September period,
there were as many as 40 vehicles on the airfield, not counting
“On top of that, for whatever
reason, our air traffic was up nearly 25-percent over the
comparable period of 2002,” Stewart added.
He estimated the control tower recorded
as many as 40,000 extra transmissions during the construction
period...talking to pilots and construction equipment operators.
In addition to air crews, Stewart
and his team were in frequent contact with contractors to
make certain everybody was doing what needed to be done to
maintain airport traffic and safety.
“We were ‘staffed up’
all the time,” Stewart emphasized. “We had to
be ready to handle a variety of sometimes unusual situations.”
The good news is that the major rebuild
of the runway was accomplished without incident or accident.
Port of Walla Walla officials are quick to credit the air
traffic controllers for successfully handling the increased
challenges brought on by the construction project.
Stewart and his staff work for Serco
Management Services, Inc., the firm contracted by the Federal
Aviation Administration to handle air traffic control at the
Walla Walla Regional Airport.
ad campaign designed to boost traffic
with the threat of losing Horizon air service at the
Walla Walla Regional Airport, the Port has embarked
on an aggressive program aimed at increasing local
Among other things, the Port
launched an advertising campaign to publicize lower
fares to Seattle and worked with Horizon’s partner
airlines to offer reasonably priced connecting fares
to major East Coast and West Coast destinations.
Port Commissioner Paul Schneidmiller
said the promotional program is paying off.
Passenger counts climbed
significantly during the last quarter of 2003 and
Horizon has again scheduled a fourth flight, originating
in Pendleton to Walla Walla, then on to Seattle.
Schneidmiller said the increase
in passenger traffic sends a message to Horizon that
air service is needed and used in Walla Walla.