PORT ANGELES — Dash Air Shuttle has purchased three aircraft, moving the startup company closer to revving up commuter passenger flights from Port Angeles to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport — with round-trip tickets hovering around $200 — as soon as Aug. 26, company co-founder Clint Ostler said Wednesday.
Ostler said two of the three nine-seat Cessna 402c twin-piston planes will arrive Tuesday or Wednesday at William R. Fairchild International Airport after making the cross-country flight from the East Coast airline that is selling the aircraft for $250,000 each.
The third will land in Port Angeles in August after it finishes a pilot-training stint in Oregon.
Ostler said the goal is to start passenger service by Aug. 26, but that could be delayed until the first week in September, after expected Federal Aviation Administration approval of maintenance and training protocols.
Dash is expected to provide the first service from Port Angeles to Sea-Tac since Nov. 14, 2014, when Kenmore Air stopped flying due to low passenger volumes.
The prospect of revived flights into and out of Clallam County has caught the eye of Jefferson County residents, Arlene Alen, executive director of The Chamber of Jefferson County, said Wednesday.
They see greater convenience in driving to Port Angeles, parking for free at Fairchild and making the 30-minute flight to Sea-Tac, allowing them to avoid a potentially stressful two-hour trip with variables from ferry schedules to Hood Canal bridge closures to heavy traffic on I-5.
“People I talked to are really excited about it,” said Alen, who did a quick phone survey of reactions Wednesday morning.
“I think it will provide for some real options for people here.”
Ostler said the free parking at Fairchild, an inducement to Dash offered by the Port of Port Angeles, which operates the airport, is probably the most compelling reason for Jefferson County residents to drive to Port Angeles for the quick flight to Sea-Tac, the first of which will be at 6 a.m.
“It’s a pretty strong selling point, more so if you stay in Port Angeles,” he said.
“The argument would be you would still be taking some of the variability out of the drive [to Sea-Tac].”
Fares will average about $99 one way, with a one-way, refundable, unrestricted option of $159 one way.
Ostler said flights from Fairchild will depart every day at 6 a.m. except Sunday; 9:20 a.m., 1:10 p.m. except Tuesday and Wednesday; 3:40 p.m. except Saturday; and 7:20 p.m. except Saturday.
Flights from Sea-Tac will depart every day at 8:30 a.m. except Sunday; 12:20 p.m., 2:30 p.m. except Tuesday and Wednesday; 6:30 p.m. except Saturday; and 10:30 p.m. except Saturday.
The schedule is designed to provide access to the busiest banks of flights from Sea-Tac, which by default targets Alaska Airlines and Delta Airlines, Ostler said.
Dash Air Shuttle, based in Tukwilla, has contracted with a reservation system and will begin selling tickets “hopefully in three to four weeks,” Ostler said.
“It’s all contingent on our friends at the FAA.”
A one-stop reservation system combining Port Angeles-Sea-Tac flights will take about a year to accomplish, he said.
The aircraft, which are up to 40 years old, are being purchased from an East Coast commuter airline whose name Ostler said he was not authorized to make public.
“Even though it’s an old airplane, it literally goes through a rebuild every couple of years,” he said, adding Cessna is no longer building the 402c, a plane designed as a private aircraft and reconfigured with nine seats, the “c” in the name standing for commuter.
Ostler said luggage limits are still being worked on but will likely be based on the “one plus one plus one rule:” one bag up to 50 pounds and 62 linear inches, one bag sufficient to carry through security of up to 45 linear inches and a small personal bag, such as a purse or computer bag, up to 36 linear inches.
The seats are 17 inches from arm rest to arm rest.
“It’s a very generic airplane,” he added. “There’s no mahogany wood trim or fancy seats.”
Ostler said about 12 pilots — mostly retired from larger airlines, which have a retirement age of 65 — have applied for positions that will be filled by mid-July by four applicants. Base annual pay is $60,000.
All but one of the applicants are from Port Angeles.
The new Dash Air employees will fly passengers into Sea-Tac, offloading them at the Signature Fight Services terminal.
From there, passengers will be shuttled to the main terminal for baggage and TSA-security check-in.
They will be dropped off at the ground-floor baggage-claim area near Carousel 3, where a Dash Air kiosk will be located for passengers for their return trip to the North Olympic Peninsula — and which is a short distance from ground-transportation shuttles to Clallam and Jefferson counties.
The Dash Air planes are being put into service so quickly the company will not have time to repaint them until next year.
For the time being, “we’ll probably do a light touch-up and apply our own logo,” Ostler said.
Ostler said he has not discussed providing Sea-Tac service from Jefferson County International Airport with any Port of Port Townsend officials, concentrating mostly on the Port Angeles and Sequim areas.
“We haven’t tackled it, given that they are little bit closer to ferries, but it’s still a painful experience to drive,” he said of the trip from Port Townsend to Sea-Tac.
“Down the road, that could be one of the areas where we have nonstop service to Seattle.”
That service “would be a huge success,” Alen predicted.
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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].