PASCO

Parking rates will increase on March 1, 2024. Click here for more information.

Press Releases

Parking Improvements at the Tri-Cities Airport are Taking Off

The impact of COVID-19 on flights in and out of the Tri-Cities Airport is now solidly in the rearview if the holiday traffic is any indication. Passenger loads during the 2023 holiday season even exceeded pre-COVID numbers. That’s good news! But with that good news came a few growing pains—mainly regarding parking. Tri-Cities Airport Director Buck Taft says the airport saw nearly 2,000 more passengers this Thanksgiving than last year.

“It can be hard to plan for that kind of an unexpected increase,” says Taft. “The public was understanding and supportive. We want them to know that we understand parking was a concern, we heard their requests for more parking, and changes are coming.”

Taft says that parking improvements are a top priority for the airport. Long-term plans call for a multi-level parking structure, but Taft says that scale of investment is expensive, and there are still opportunities to increase surface parking before a structure makes sense.

“Down the road, we do plan on building a parking structure, but right now, we have plans for terminal and infrastructure improvements that we think can be a more immediate benefit to travelers,” says Taft. Taft added that plans are underway to add between 200 and 400 more surface parking stalls by the second quarter of 2024.

In addition to adding parking, airport staff are also improving the parking kiosks and cashier lines. New technology allows scanners to log license plates as they enter. Taft quickly points out that collecting license plate numbers is simply a tool to track vehicles in the airport lots, and the data won’t be used for anything else, assuaging privacy concerns.

If travelers pay online in advance, the gate will automatically lift when they arrive. At the same time, when paying at the airport, the amount owed will display on a screen as travelers leave, reducing lines and making the parking process more efficient.

Taft also noted that the parking improvements, which are designed to enhance your airport experience, will be funded, in part, through the airport’s recently announced parking rate increase. Long-term parking at the airport is set to increase from $10 to $12, while short-term parking will increase from $13 to $16 beginning March 1, 2024. Taft notes that this is the first parking rate increase in seven years and it’s still lower than average parking rates throughout the northwest.

“It’s important to remember that we are self-funded,” says Taft. “We don’t collect local property taxes and rely solely on revenue generated by airport users.”

As the number of airport users continues to increase, so does the need to accommodate them. Currently, the airport has over $120 million in terminal projects planned over the next 10-12 years. Those improvements only stand to help encourage more airlines to choose flights into Tri-Cities, like the new American Airlines flight that kicked off in January. Taft says he believes that this is only the beginning, and he expects as demand grows, he wants the Tri-Cities Airport to be well-positioned to answer that call.

“We’re encouraged by all the support shown by our passengers, not just in Tri-Cities, but throughout the region,” says Taft. “Our carrier partners are noticing, and I think we’re going to continue to see more opportunities for direct flights and destinations on the horizon soon.”

Go to Press Release

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