PORT ANGELES — Port of Port Angeles Commissioners have unanimously approved a lease with Dash Air that waived $2,220 in monthly charges at William R. Fairchild International Airport for the Tukwila-based company that has yet to inaugurate flight service to Seattle.
The lease approved Tuesday runs from Aug. 1, 2023 through Jan. 8, 2024 with two, one-year extensions.
The commissioners had approved at their July 25 regular meeting a revised service agreement with Dash Air to provide up to six scheduled flights a day between Port Angeles and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. It included an updated revenue guarantee under which the port will compensate Dash Air if it doesn’t achieve certain levels of revenue on flights. A grant will contribute to meeting this obligation.
“We have been going through this lease and these resolutions a number of times, so I think that we’re pretty familiar with them,” said Director of Economic Development Caleb McMahon.
The lease included six non-standard terms that required the commissioners’ approval:
• Waive rent for 420 square foot space in the terminal lobby and office at $1 per square foot ($420/month).
• Waive 4 to 6 landing fees at $15/month ($1,800/month).
• Waive financial security deposit.
• Option to renew two, one-year extensions.
• Use of port’s wifi at no cost for two months.
• Non-exclusive use of port’s parking lots at the airport terminal .
The financial impact on the port over the course of 20-months (the term of the lease and the two, one-year extensions) will be $44,400.
Dash Air will be responsible for $353.93 per month in charges:
• Electricity at $100/month,
• Common area maintenance charge at $200/month.
• Leasehold excise tax $53.93/month.
Dash Air must still adhere to port policy by carrying general liability insurance of $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate.
The Air Service Incentive Program commissioners adopted in 2020 to attract a commercial air service provider between Port Angeles and Seattle had included waiving rent for terminal space and landing fees. Commissioners at their Dec. 13, 2022 meeting agreed to waive port policy requiring tenants to supply a financial deposit of three months rent for Dash Air.
Commissioner Colleen McAleer said she was concerned the rent appeared to be below market and that potential tenants would want the same rate.
“A dollar a foot seems awfully low,” McAleer said. “I know we’re waiving it, but if another entity came in for office space, would you be renting it to them for a dollar a foot?”
McMahon said the dollar-per-square-foot number was an estimate used in a grant application to the Small Community Air Service Development Program, not the actual rate, but that changing it could complicate the evaluation process.
In the public comment period, Lee Whetham of Port Angeles raised questions about the terms of the lease. In particular, he said the rate the port was charging Dash Air for electricity was too low and neglected to address water and sewer.
“There is a true cost of all utilities,” said Whetham, a former Port Angeles City Council member who is running against incumbent port commissioner Connie Beauvais in the fall election for the Position 3 seat. “I urge you to take this back and come up with something better.”
Dash Air had originally announced it would begin operating daily scheduled flights from Port Angeles to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in the summer of 2021. The start of service has been delayed by a series of events related to obtaining FAA certification and a lawsuit from Kenmore Air, among other complications.
In January, Dash Air President Clint Ostler, who did not attend the Tuesday meeting, told a Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce luncheon audience that scheduled flights would commence this spring. In July, Dash Air announced charter flights would begin that month, with commercial flights starting in August. In late July, Ostler told commissioners that charter service would be available on Aug. 1 with limited scheduled service to start later in this month.
In a work session prior to their meeting, commissioners decided on the strategic priorities, not in ranked order, that will be used as a guide for 2024 budget planning:
Expand maritime commerce through development of marine trades industrial park and additional acres of industrial zoned waterfront properties; develop 16 acres of industrial airport property; annually generate a positive cash flow; develop a strategy to increase the port’s ability to self-perform maintenance an capital improvement projects; foster partnerships with other public agencies to further economic development and collaborate with regional partners to advocate and advance development and retention of a diversified and skilled workforce in Clallam County.
Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at Paula.Hunt@soundpublishing.com