Three Dash Air Shuttle Cessna 403C aircraft sit parked at William R Fairchild International Airport on Aug. 31 as they await entering into scheduled service between Port Angeles and SeaTac Airport. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

For now, PA-Sea-Tac flights dashed

Hope is to offer flights by Christmas

PORT ANGELES — The Thanksgiving holiday will come and go without Dash Air Shuttle Inc. providing travelers with scheduled passenger service to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, company president Clint Ostler said this week.

“That’s definitely not a go,” he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is still certifying maintenance and operations protocols for Dash Air’s three nine-seat Cessna 402s for the route between Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles to Sea-Tac, a process Ostler said he hopes is completed by Christmas.

The company’s website at flydashair.com still offers “Port Angeles to [Sea-Tac] in 30 minutes coming Fall 2021” and promises “Dash will begin service between Port Angeles, WA and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport this summer,” meaning summer 2021.

“I feel like a broken record,” Ostler said, explaining the latest delay.

“There’s been a lot of progress in terms of paperwork and documentation requirements to bring the aircraft on board. We have hopes that will be completed by early next month.

“Once that’s complete, we’re hoping to move pretty quickly after that.”

Once the FAA approves the aircraft protocols, the agency must give the go-ahead for the planes to fly the commercial passenger route to Sea-Tac, Ostler said.

The startup company plans to change its name by next summer to bypass a name-trademark dispute with Juneau, Alaska-based Kalinen Aviation, he added, declining to disclose the new moniker.

A Kalinen official did not return a call for comment Thursday.

FAA officials have not returned calls for comment on Dash’s application or responded to queries about the company’s plans that have been submitted through the agency’s website press-inquiry portal.

Ostler said Dash officials prefer to have 45 days between complete certification and the start-up of flights to ensure a better chance of success.

“We’re not committing to scheduled flights in November at this point,” he said. “Our hope is to have all three airplanes completed by early December, that first week of December.

“We want to make sure everything is in place to run a reliable service.”

Ostler offered a 60 percent chance for beginning flights by Christmas.

“I don’t want to get too excited and be set back again,” he said. “I’m keeping a very positive view and hoping I am pleasantly surprised.”

Seven retired airline pilots have committed to being hired by Dash Air. Two will commandeer each aircraft for training purposes at first, then one, Ostler said.

The plan is to have up to five flights daily, but that could change based on demand and the season.

“What everyone is working toward is having scheduled service with up to five flights a day,” he said.

“That is what is in the plan. We could launch that with [initial] bookings. If not, we’ll change the schedule to pare it back.”

Ostler said it’s challenging to start service as winter begins, adding that traditionally the worst demand period for any airline is in January and February.

“That is a bit of a headwind at this point in time,” he said.

According to the FAA certificate under which Dash Air could operate if the planes pass muster, only four charter flights a week would be allowed, Ostler said. More needs to be done to be allowed to provide scheduled service.

That’s why the agency must upgrade the certification to scheduled airline service, he said.

In an email Monday to Fairchild Airport Manager Dan Gase, Ostler said the FAA approval process is “progressing well” and that the agency would be receiving specifications for intrastate flights this week.

Once the FAA gives approval to the second of the three aircraft, “we want to announce scheduled flights,” Ostler said in the email.

“I think we’re cautiously targeting mid-December for commencing the scheduled ops. There is a chance we can launch with really limited operations once aircraft one is completed,” he said.

“If we did that, we’d start with four flights a week over to Sea-Tac, likely targeting the Thanksgiving travel period.”

Oslter said last week that charter service is possible but not likely.

With just one plane, “we don’t have redundancy” if one plane needs repairs or extra maintenance.

“I am like 99 percent sure” service will eventually start to Sea-Tac, he said.

“We’ve spent a lot of money getting this up so far,” he said, a price tag that includes buying three used aircraft from a lessor who purchased the planes from Hyannis, Mass.-based Cape Air.

“I don’t see a scenario where it’s not going to start. We still have money in the bank,” he said.

“When I talk to other airlines, they say dealing with regulatory challenges on the Department of Transportation and FAA side have been slow for everyone. We’re not an isolated case, I guess I could say.”

Dash Air plans up to five flights daily on the nine-seaters with first departures beginning at 6 a.m. from Port Angeles except Sunday, and it plans final departures from Sea-Tac at 10:30 p.m. except Saturday.

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

Clint Ostler, president of Dash Air Shuttle, speaks about starting air service between Port Angeles and Seattle’s SeaTac Airport during a Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Clint Ostler, president of Dash Air Shuttle, speaks about starting air service between Port Angeles and Seattle’s SeaTac Airport during a Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

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