Fresh off the addition of three nonstop flights, the Boise Airport is seeing its main air carrier cut back on several of its routes, including almost no fall or winter service for the region’s only direct trip to the capital of Texas.
Alaska Airlines will suspend its daily flight between Boise and Austin starting Oct. 1, primarily because of crew shortages, Ray Lane, a spokesperson for the Seattle-based airline, told the Idaho Statesman by email. The route will be restored briefly at reduced service for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, he said, but with no plans to return again before at least mid-March 2023.
The Boise flight to Austin — a popular destination for food, culture and music, where the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan resonates — is just over a year old, after Alaska launched the service in June 2021. With the addition, the airline benefited from the airport’s new route incentive program, according to a Boise Airport spokesperson.
To help encourage new year-round destinations, the airport incentive program provides marketing reimbursements and credits toward fees that airlines typically pay for use of the terminal and runway. Alaska fulfilled the terms of its one-year agreement to receive the maximum subsidy of about $75,000 for the Austin route before pausing the flight until the 2022 holiday season.
“We understand that Alaska is adjusting some of their route frequencies,” Shawna Samuelson, a Boise Airport spokesperson, told the Statesman by email. “Airlines have the ability to continue to adjust their schedules. When flight schedules adjust, any related incentive amounts are recalculated to reflect actual service.”
Boise passengers hoping to fly nonstop to Texas in the interim can still jump aboard American Airlines’ daily flight to Dallas/Fort Worth or United Airlines’ daily flight to Houston.
Also in October, Alaska will end its daily nonstop service between Boise and Chicago-O’Hare International Airport, dropping the flight to three days per week: Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays. The airline launched that route in June 2021 but received no airport incentive, because American and United offer the same service.
“The primary reason for our decision to adjust service on various flights is due to a shortage of crew that wasn’t anticipated when we built our schedule several months ago,” said Lane, the Alaska Airlines spokesperson.
Alaska offers nonstop flights between Boise and 17 destinations — 16 once it temporarily suspends the Austin route — and remains the Boise Airport’s primary commercial air carrier. The airport will add a 27th nonstop destination across its nine airlines when aha! airlines begins direct service later this month to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, where the low-cost airline is based.
Alaska added service between Boise and Southern California’s Hollywood Burbank Airport in May, and in June it added flights to Las Vegas and Idaho Falls. The Burbank route competes directly with new Boise Airport addition Avelo Airlines, and its Las Vegas flight competes with fellow new arrival Spirit Airlines, as well as Southwest Airlines and Allegiant Air.
But starting in October, about three months after launching the Las Vegas route, Alaska will scale back its frequency. The flight will shift from daily service to four times per week, according to a review of the airline’s booking website.
Spirit’s new flight to Las Vegas remains a daily route, as does Southwest’s service. Allegiant makes the round-trip flight twice weekly, on Mondays and Fridays.
In addition, Alaska will reduce to four days per week its flights between Boise and both Los Angeles and San Francisco — as well as to Everett, Washington, which started in June 2020.
BoiseDev was first to report on Alaska’s planned route reductions.