Airport records brings TSA challenges
Freidman Memorial Airport in Hailey has flight statistics that are soaring to new heights
HAILEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — While some smaller airports have experienced a reduction in flights throughout the pandemic, Freidman Memorial Airport in Hailey has flight statistics that are soaring to new heights.
“This year, we’ll see the highest number of takeoffs and landings we’ve seen in about the past eight years,” said Friedman Memorial Airport Director Chris Pomeroy.
While roughly 80% of flights into Friedman Memorial Airport are private aircraft, the airport is serviced by three commercial airlines — Delta, United and Alaska Airlines — who travel to six nonstop destinations ranging as far as Chicago O’Hare.
Due to the airport’s close proximity to ski resort towns Sun Valley and Ketchum, passenger flows historically were highest in the winter. In recent years, however, a summer travel surge has emerged, further bolstering passenger counts at the airport.
“We’re continuing to see an influx of visitors from bigger cities being if you will due to the pandemic,” Pomeroy said. “Being a resort community, a smaller community, folks are continuing to come and we’re excited about that.”
According to Pomeroy, the airport saw a record number of passengers in 2021. With an influx of passengers comes challenges, however, as more TSA officers are needed for screening passengers in security.
“In Sun Valley it’s always difficult I think due to the higher wages paid in perhaps the tourism industry here,” said Federal Security Director with TSA Idaho Andrew Coose. “We had a much easier time in places like Twin Falls or Boise in the past.”
Due to the ongoing housing crisis in the Wood River Valley, Coose said some officers have a long commute to the airport. TSA has also had to pivot during seasonal peaks.
“During ski season, we bring people in from outside of Idaho to augment our staff to make sure everything flows smoothly at Sun Valley Airport.”
Passengers can help speed up those security lines, however. Coose said statewide, there has been an increase in instances of one big airport security mistake he asks those traveling to avoid.
“We’ve had a number of guns show up at Boise and other Idaho airports,” Coose said. “We don’t want to see that, so I’m encouraging people to make sure they know what’s in their bag before they bring it to the airport.”
In order to help the staffing situation at the airport, TSA is offering a $1,000 sign-on bonus and a 15% retention incentive.
Those interested can apply online at tsa.gov/TSO.
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