Redmond Airport by the numbers:

• 24 daily flights

• 413,580 annual number of passengers arriving

• 825,132 arriving and departing passengers

• 4 airlines operating

• 2,518 acres of land

• 1,151 parking spaces

Source: Redmond Airport

Heading into the busiest travel season of the year, the Redmond Airport wants to warn departing customers that the parking lot might be full.

Before leaving home, travelers should check the parking lot webcam on the airport’s website, which also shows the number of available parking spaces in red highlighted scrolling text, officials advise.

To ease the parking squeeze, the airport is adding a temporary dirt lot on the east side of the airport near the rental car lot for about 100 cars.

Acknowledging there’s a problem, the airport is planning an additional 300 parking spaces, but those won’t be ready until next summer, said Zach Bass, Redmond Airport director.

It’s a good problem to have at a regional airport connecting passengers to major airports, but can be problematic for the traveler used to rolling in an hour or less before a flight, he said.

Over the past five years, the airport has grown 75 percent in the number of departing passengers, Bass said.

“Anytime a parking lot is full at a place of business that’s a good sign,” said Jon Stark, Redmond Economic Development Inc. senior director. “The airlines like to see full parking lots. It shows that people are on their planes. It’s actually a good problem to have.”

The 1,151 parking spaces at Redmond Airport have been full or close to full at least six times since Nov. 1, Bass said. It’s an issue because nearly three-quarters of all passengers using the airport come from Bend and Sunriver, he said.

“What we’re finding is that we are at capacity in October, November and May,” Bass said. “Our growth is occurring sooner than we anticipated. We always knew that parking would reach capacity. We have plenty of land but nothing close to the terminal.”

In addition to adding the temporary lot, the airport is proposing to raise parking fees for its so-called airline transient workers — pilots and flight attendants — who live here and fly in and out of Redmond to their home bases.

Each year these workers pay $300 to park in an employee lot, but they could face annual fees that top $1,100.

The airport is proposing that they park in the general lot and pay the daily rate of $10. The increase not only generates additional income, but allows the airport to reconfigure its existing employee and vendor parking for the additional 300 spaces, Bass said.

The increase doesn’t sit well with SkyWest Airlines pilot Scott Gendron, who with about 10 other airline employees talked to the Airport Committee, which serves as an advisory link between Redmond City Council members and the airport.

“The price imposed on employee parking is unrealistic,” Gendron said. “We’ll have to park across the street and create a safety hazard as we cross the busy Airport Way. The airport is in a crisis now with this parking issue. I service this airport and this hurts me. I am an advocate for this airport. I always try to give my best service to my community.”

The parking lot generates its own revenue and must make enough to pay for any expansion, Bass said. Last year it earned $3 million in revenue. It will cost the airport $8,000 a parking stall to add an economy lot on the land it already owns.

The airport will go before the Redmond City Council on Nov. 27 for approval of a parking lot design, Bass said. The price tag is expected to be between $5 million and $7 million.

Tight parking goes together with airline expansion, Bass said. This spring, Alaska started flying larger planes to Redmond, and additional flights were added.

“We will end up with more customer parking,” Bass said. “At this point, it’s a two-prong approach. First we want to make people aware of the problem and encourage alternate ways of getting here, and second, check the webcam before you come. Some days we have 200 spaces available and then some times we have only six.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2117, sroig@bendbulletin.com

Editor’s note: This story has been updated. A previous version contained incorrect information about the airport’s growth rate.

21708257