Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Port Angeles to get new passenger airline service to Sea-Tac starting March 1 with SeaPort

PORT ANGELES — Scheduled air passenger service will resume March 1 between William R. Fairchild International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

SeaPort Airlines of Portland, Ore., announced Tuesday it will begin service with five 40-minute flights most days on single-engine, nine-passenger Cessna Caravan turboprop aircraft similar to those flown by Kenmore Air.

Kenmore abandoned service to Port Angeles last November. Port of Port Angeles officials have sought another carrier since then.

“This is great news,” said Ken O'Hollaren, Port of Port Angeles executive director.

“Kudos to all involved for writing letters to SeaPort supporting the service. SeaPort said that was a big factor in its decision.”

Initially, the Transportation Security Administration will provide no inspections at Fairchild. 

Passengers flying beyond Sea-Tac must undergo security checks when they reach Seattle, O'Hollaren said.

The port will try to establish TSA security at Fairchild, he said.

“First we get the service,” he said. “Then we worry about the amenities.”

Single-ticket itineraries

SeaPort, however, will offer single-ticket itineraries and baggage transfer to flights from Sea-Tac on Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, said SeaPort CEO Rob McKinney. 

He said SeaPort was discussing similar agreements with other airlines.

SeaPort also will provide three daily flights between Moses Lake and Sea-Tac plus one daily flight between Moses Lake and Portland, its headquarters.

SeaPort will take advantage of fee waivers at Fairchild and Sea-Tac.

The Port of Port Angeles will waive all landing and terminal fees the first year and half of them the second year. 

It also will contribute $6 per outbound seat to market the service. The amount will drop to $3 after the first year.

Sea-Tac will waive up to $225,000 in annual ground fees for each daily flight by a 76-passenger aircraft — proportionately less for SeaPort's Cessna Caravans, it announced in March in an initiative to restore scheduled service to Seattle from rural Northwest communities.

Profits in 3 years

Forecast Inc. of Denver's consultant Ben Munson said then it would take three years for scheduled air service to Port Angeles to mature, with cash flow at that time offsetting the first two years of subsidy.

All of the incentives for five daily flights between Port Angeles and Seattle would total about $400,000 a year, Munson said.

Port of Port Angeles Commissioner John Calhoun also has called for Fairchild to waive parking fees, but O'Hollaren said Tuesday they would remain in force for the time being.

Besides SeaPort, Alaska Airlines had considered flying the Port Angeles-Seattle route but with a single flight by a 76-passenger Bombardier Q-400 twin-engine turboprop.

Other possible carriers included Skywest and a return by Kenmore Air.

Community officials, including Port Commissioner Colleen McAleer, said they would prefer more frequent flights by smaller aircraft to increase flexibility for connections at Sea-Tac.

Officials applaud

Port commission President Jim Hallett said, “We're delighted at SeaPort Airlines' decision to begin regular air service to Sea-Tac.

“We appreciate the confidence SeaPort is demonstrating in our community and know the community will respond with its own commitment to support the new service.”

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, also applauded the service, which he said “gives folks an easy way to get to Seattle and other parts of the country while boosting tourism by bringing new visitors to the Olympic Peninsula.”

Bill Greenwood, executive director of the Clallam County Economic Development Corp., said last week the lack of scheduled air service had dampened some companies' willingness to locate in the Port Angeles area, saying in effect that they'd wait to see if the community could attract an airline.

Eric Lewis, CEO of Olympic Medical Center, said the lack of air service also had discouraged some doctors from joining OMC.

History of service

SeaPort Airlines is a privately held company that was founded in 1982 as Wings of Alaska before it was bought by SeaPort Air Group LLC.

SeaPort initially flew between Seattle and Portland — hence its name — although it discontinued the service.

It now serves 20 cities in an area from Oregon to Mississippi in the United States, as well as San Felipe, Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Kenmore Air ceased its scheduled service Nov. 14. By that time, flights had dwindled from several daily to one.

Kenmore flew from Fairchild to Seattle's Boeing Field and provided shuttle service to Sea-Tac.

Kenmore cited decreasing ridership and revenues and increasing costs after 10 years of service that started when it took over from Horizon Air.

San Juan Airlines flew from Fairchild to Boeing Field in 2003-04. It replaced Harbor Air, which went out of business in 2001.

In the intervening year since Kenmore's departure, Rite Bros. Aviation has flown charter air service to Sea-Tac.

As for a return of scheduled service, McAleer said last winter that customer support would be crucial for a carrier.

“I'm hoping the cost of flying out of Port Angeles would be offset by the cost of driving and the cost of parking [$28 a day at Sea-Tac] and, of course, the time savings,” she said. 

- Source: http://www.peninsuladailynews.com

  SeaPort Airlines Talks Business: 

 
Port Angeles – Now that SeaPort Airlines has committed its business to the Peninsula and Fairchild International Airport, there will be a number of travel options for travelers who want to get to Sea-Tac for their travel plans.

KONP spoke with the Executive Vice President, Tim Sieber, on the reasons Seaport elected to come to Port Angeles.

Sieber also addressed other business issues that all airlines are facing right now, a shortage of pilots and business marketing.

SeaPort was founded in Juneau, Alaska in 1982 as Wings of Alaska. In 2008, Wings of Alaska was purchased by SeaPort Air Group, LLC and the headquarters moved to Portland, Oregon.

SeaPort has found its market niche as a regional airline, connecting small and rural communities with national air transportation via large hub airports.

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