PORT ANGELES — Dash Air is selling T-shirts but not airline tickets from Port Angeles to Seattle, a company official said.
Dash Air Shuttle Inc. plans to launch its proposed passenger service from William R. Fairchild International Airport to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport 30 to 45 days after it receives Federal Aviation Administration approval, President Clint Ostler told Port Angeles business leaders last week.
FAA certification for Dash Air’s passenger service on a small fleet of nine-seat Cessna 402c twin-engine aircraft is expected in mid- to late-September, Ostler said in a Chamber of Commerce meeting.
“As soon as we get approval, we want to put a 45-day booking window on it so that we can have enough time to ramp-up bookings,” Ostler said.
“If we get approval on Sept. 30, then we’re looking at a Nov. 15 start date.
“We might even time it up to a 30-day opening window,” Ostler added.
“It’s literally dependent on the FAA saying, ‘Yes, you can now go sell tickets.’ The minute that call is over, we’re going to flip the switch and go.”
Plans to launch the air service by the end of September were stalled because of COVID-19 and FAA-related delays, Ostler said.
“We’re working through that now, and we’re hoping that in the next month or so we’ll be about to announce service,” he told about 30 chamber members at the Red Lion Hotel.
Meanwhile, Dash Air has begun selling $25 Dash Air Shuttle T-shirts on its website, www.flydashair.com.
The start-up company’s officials say they need to be engaged in commerce in order to prevail in a trademark dispute over the Dash Air name, Ostler said.
“We have claim to the name,” Ostler said.
“No one has used it for over a year as we’ve been building this out.
“But apparently, we have a competitor, or nemesis, if you will, who has been trying to trademark our name,” Ostler added.
“So, because we’re not selling airline tickets yet, and in order for me to try to take my name back, we have to be engaged in commerce.”
The Dash Air name is trademarked by Kalinin Aviation, LLC, of Juneau, Alaska, co-owner and president Kent Craford said Tuesday.
Kalinin Aviation, doing business as Alaska Seaplanes, has authority from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) for exclusive use of the Dash Air name in scheduled air transportation, Craford said.
“USDOT only allows one scheduled carrier to use a given trade name at a time, unless the carrier with authority for that name grants another to use it in some partnership capacity,” Craford said.
“That isn’t the case here. We’ve never been approached by anyone requesting to use our name.
“There’s plenty of good names out there,” Craford added in a Tuesday email. “I’m sure they’ll figure something out and wish them the best of luck with their new service.”
Once launched, the Port Angeles airline will make five half-hour flights from Fairchild to Sea-Tac daily, Ostler said.
Flights will leave Fairchild Airport at 6 a.m., 9:20 a.m., 1:10 p.m., 3:40 p.m. and 7:20 p.m., according to an initial schedule.
Return flights will leave Sea-Tac at 8:30 a.m., 12:20 p.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.
One-way tickets will cost $89 to $139 as proposed with refundable tickets available for $159.
After landing at Sea-Tac, passengers will be shuttled from Signature, a fixed-based operator near the south end of the general aviation runway, to the main terminal, Ostler said.
For the return trip, a kiosk will be stationed on Sea-Tac’s baggage-claim level for the shuttle to Signature and flight back to Port Angeles. The company is projecting 89 passengers per day.
If successful, Ostler said Dash Air will consider other routes to Sea-Tac from communities that once had scheduled air service such as the San Juan Islands and Aberdeen-Hoquiam.
“Over the last 15 years or so, the airline industry, particularly on the regional side, has changed fairly significantly,” Ostler said.
“Now, really, the smallest airplane that airlines are using is a 76-seat airplane, which really alienates a lot of communities all over the country. We’ve identified over 400 (cities) that have lost their service, or are at risk of losing their service, because of bigger aircraft that are making up the landscape.
“So we’re kind of throwing it back, ‘Back to the Future’ style, and we’re introducing service with a nine-seat Cessna 402 aircraft,” he added.
The three Cessna 402s in the start-up fleet are older but reliable aircraft, Ostler said.
The newest plane was built in 1981, he said.
“Our plan is, in the next five to six years, as a technology materializes, is we will convert these nine-seat Cessna 402s to nine-seat electric-propelled aircraft,” Ostler said.
Kenmore Air Express, the last commercial passenger airline to operate out of Fairchild, operated single-engine Cessna Caravan aircraft to Seattle’s Boeing Field and shuttled passengers nine miles to Sea-Tac until it shut down Port Angeles service in 2014 due to low profits and ridership.
Ostler’s company received $333,000 in revenue guarantees for the start-up. The award consisted of $133,000 in Port of Port Angeles general funds and $200,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation Small Community Air Service Development Program.
“We get one shot at this as a community,” said Port Commissioner Steve Burke during a question-and-answer session.
“We have one grant. We don’t get another grant, ever.
“If we don’t use this, we’re going to lose it,” Burke added, “and we won’t get another opportunity to do this again.”
Marc Abshire, Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce director, encouraged business owners to book flights on Dash Air when the service goes online.
Abshire said the company had moved the project to the “1-yard line.”
“We’ve just got to punch it into the end zone,” Abshire said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].