Start-up plans Port Angeles-to-Sea-Tac passenger flights

Dash awaiting FAA action, plans to buy planes

PORT ANGELES — A start-up airline expected to provide commercial air passenger service from the North Olympic Peninsula to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for the first time since 2014 is firming up plans to purchase planes, obtain federal certification and set its flight schedule, a company official said Wednesday.

Dash Air Shuttle Inc. hopes to buy four nine-seat Cessna 402c twin-engine aircraft by May 31, company co-founder Clint Ostler said.

Ostler also is banking on Federal Aviation Administration approving expansion of Dash’s certificate, by mid-July, to operate the aircraft.

Dash wants to offer four flights from William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles to Sea-Tac International by the end of August or beginning of September — at the latest, Ostler said.

He presented Dash’s plans at a Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce online meeting a week after the Tukwila-based company announced plans to revive air service — and after obtaining $333,000 in revenue guarantees from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Port of Port Angeles, the taxing district that owns Fairchild.

The port also has waived $20,000 in landing fees and rent and will offer free parking to commercial air passengers, which Ostler noted had reached 60 per day to Sea-Tac at one point before Kenmore Air left Fairchild in November 2014.

He said that could hit 90, based on growth rate, under an initial schedule of four flights a day that could grow to five flights during peak periods.

“Our goal would be to be up and running by the end of Q3,” Ostler said at the chamber meeting.

“So that would mean at the very latest, at the end of September. Our goal is to try to be up and running late July, early August is kind of what we’re shooting for. So that will all just be very dependent on getting the FAA approvals and completion of the necessary training and maintenance programs.”

Dash would start selling tickets immediately after FAA certification for flights about 45 days later.

“We need a little bit of a time to build up bookings and making sure we are being very diligent with our finances as well as the grant monies that have been provided by the port and the federal government,” Ostler said.

“Hopefully, if all goes well, about late June we should make an announcement that we’re going to start taking ticket sales and have a more definitive start date.”

The flight from Fairchild could include 30 minutes of air time to Sea-Tac’s Signature Flight Services terminal, where a shuttle would take passengers to the airport’s main terminal building. Those arrangements are still being negotiated, Ostler said.

He told chamber meeting participants that a 6:30 a.m. Port Angeles-Sea-Tac flight announced last week was tentatively pushed back to 6 a.m. to allow more time — 90 minutes — for passengers to catch 8 a.m. flights once they land at Sea-Tac.

The goal is to further adjust the schedule to avoid a “conga line” of planes taking off that causes long delays on the tarmac, and within two years to link up with Alaska and Delta airlines for single-ticket purchases from Port Angeles to final destinations.

Tickets will cost $79 to $159 one way, with an average of $95 to $99 one way, Ostler said, adding that future plans include service to other smaller communities such as the San Juan Islands, Moses Lake, Ellensburg, and Astoria, Ore., and, five years from now, use of electric-propulsion aircraft that could cut ticket costs by 25 percent.

“We’re really looking at markets that are short-haul in nature and also provide strong candidates for future electrification,” Ostler said.

He pointed to Hyaannis, Mass.-based Cape Air, a large regional airline that utilizes the Cessna 402c that Dash is considering purchasing, as an example of the kind of regional air service that Dash could emulate.

The Cessna’s nine seats include one next to the pilot, capacity for passengers to pack a carry-on bag and a standard-size piece of luggage, and seat widths of 17 inches.

“It’s definitely a cozier plane,” Ostler said in an interview.

The used Cessnas Dash is considering purchasing cost in the range of $300,000 to $350,000 each, Ostler said.

“Financing is not an issue,” he said in the interview.

“The whole program we are building is built around Port Angeles.

“I don’t know what would cause it not to happen.”

Airport Manager Dan Gase said Wednesday the port has contacted about 15 airlines to provide service since Kenmore Air departed for good.

He said a new 12- to 16-foot counter might be constructed at the Fairchild terminal building, 25 percent of which is rented by Rite Bros. Aviation.

“Just a little corner is all they need,” Gase said of Dash’s terminal space.

Ostler said the Transportation Safety Administration could eventually provide flight check-in services at Fairchild, depending on passenger numbers.

Dash is being started by Ostler, an Embark Aviation vice president, and other upper management-level colleagues at the Washington, D.C.-based airline management consulting company.

Embark will manage Dash but will not be the parent company, Ostler said.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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