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Idaho Falls airport looks to future

Idaho Falls Regional Airport is Idaho’s second-busiest airport and now it may be poised to pick up some extra traffic.

After the FAA considered cutting funding for the federal contract tower program last year, the program will be included in this year’s appropriations bill. Under the program, the FAA outsources air traffic control operations at more than 200 airports to private companies.

“The tower really provides an extra level of safety at the airport that the pilots, the airlines, the general public have become accustomed to,” said Craig Davis, aviation director of the airport.

Add to that the news that Allegiant Air will resume summer flights from Idaho Falls to Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif.

“We’re constantly asking them to provide the LAX and the Oakland flights year-round, but they still are having operational restrictions from LAX,” said Davis.

Even so, local business leaders say summer flights are a step in the right direction.

“Anytime that we can improve routes, we can cut flight time, or cut connections, or have more direct flights, I think, is always a benefit,” said Linda Martin, CEO of Grow Idaho Falls.

In the next decade, Martin says the airport may even need to physically expand.

“You also have some land which could be developed for additional hangars and services or distribution centers,” Martin said.

Airport officials say they’re currently in talks with Delta to get direct flights between Idaho Falls and Minneapolis.

The Allegiant flights to California run from June 5 through Aug. 11.

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