Central Oregon

Redmond daily flights to LAX may return

But first, C.O. businesses must pony up pledges

BEND, Ore. - Central Oregon has a shot at bringing back daily direct flights to Los Angeles that were lost nearly three years ago. But as has been done in the past, the High Desert must do some quick fund-raising to lure new flights, this time with American Airlines, to Redmond Airport.

Roger Lee, executive director of Economic Development for Central Oregon, told community and business leaders about the new effort at EDCO's annual luncheon meeting on Wednesday.

Horizon Air ended its RDM-LAX service in 2010, and since then, business officials have been seeking to restore those flights, buoyed by a $500,000 grant awarded to Redmond Airport last year.

"For us, the Redmond-LA connection is really the missing market for Central Oregon," Lee told the audience. "It would be a direct flight in the morning and evening return."

"I just did a trip there," he added, "and to have a direct flight would be a huge time savings and cost savings for us. It took the better part of two days, where if this option were available, it would take two hours."

It's likely a 50-seat commuter jet would make the flights, which could begin as early as this summer.

These would be the first flights into Central Oregon with American Airlines, which recently announced a planned merger with U.S. Airways.

But it's not the first time Central Oregon businesses have been asked to kick in to a "travel bank" to bring new air service. The airline wants local businesses and individuals, in essence, to buy pre-paid travel vouchers, to show good faith they'd use the service.

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