Dash Air aims for spring flights

Four daily trips

tentatively slated

By Ken Park

Olympic Peninsula News Group

PORT ANGELES — Dash Air Shuttle, with an air of caution, has set its sights on early spring to finally take off with commercial flights.

“We are not providing a specific date because we seem to jinx ourselves over and over by doing so,” Clint Ostler, president of Dash Air, said to audience members at a Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce luncheon last Wednesday.

“We are hoping to turn on reservations in the next few weeks with flights taking off within 30 days after that,” he added.

Ostler presented a tentative starting flight schedule and ticket costs.

“We have a starting schedule of four daily flights and look to increase that to six flights a day in the summer, hoping to add an earlier morning departure from Port Angeles and a later evening departure from Seattle,” he said.

The tentative schedule has flights from Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as early as 8:30 a.m. and flights from SeaTac to Port Angeles as late as 8:30 p.m.

The Tukwila-based startup company has had numerous delays since July.

The most recent was after ticket sales had begun for an August start in providing the first scheduled passenger flights between Port Angeles and Seattle since 2014.

Kenmore Air, which had operated scheduled passenger service for more than 10 years between Port Angeles and Seattle until November 2014, filed a complaint with the Department of Transportation (DOT) saying that Dash Air lacks proper licensing to advertise connections to airlines outside the state.

Dash Air is awaiting a judgment from DOT on the 96-page complaint.

“As you all know, Kenmore Air filed a complaint with the DOT back in July that alleged that we were not compliant with state laws, which was completely inaccurate and wrong, but we ended up delaying our original start state in August out of an abundance of caution to address the complaints,” Ostler said Wednesday.

When Dash Air responded to the initial complaints by Kenmore Air to DOT, Kenmore filed another round of complaints which Dash responded to as well, he said.

The DOT closed the filing period for complaints and comments in September.

“We are still waiting on a response from the DOT on whether or not there are any actions we need to take, but our lawyers are confident that we can move forward without risk of being shut down by the DOT,” Ostler said.

The complaint says Dash Air advertises its services on its website, which is considered an interstate and international platform and doesn’t make clear restrictions on passenger routing or contract of carriage, Ostler said.

On Wednesday, Ostler said that, due to Dash Air’s designation as an intrastate carrier, it can operate only in Washington State and cannot transfer baggage to other airlines that are traveling out of state.

“We hope to have the regulatory approval in about a year’s time and work with airlines like Alaska and Delta to take transfers,” Ostler said.

The planes used by Dash Air are small, able to carry up to nine passengers and one pilot, and have a limited cargo hold, he said.

Once operating, general airfare will cost between $69 and $189, Ostler said, adding that Dash Air will offer e-coupons or Dash Tix, which could lower the price for some customers.

“Dash Tix is our e-coupon program, which is essentially a bulk ticket program that’s valid for a year, and anyone in the purchasing household can use it and redeem it for travel. Customers can set up an account in our system and then they book against that account,” Ostler said.

Dash Air is creating a business version of the Dash Tix program, he added. This will add a few more benefits for businesses that use the e-coupon.

The company also is working with First Federal on a ticket package.

“We are establishing a pre-sale deposit where First Fed sets aside a pretty significant amount of money that matches what they would have spent in a year for travel, and they’re providing that in terms of a financial commitment to Dash Air that we will have set up on our banking side, which can be accessed when they go to book travel,” Ostler said.

The Port of Port Angeles has leased Dash Air 525 square feet of space at Fairchild for $167 per month. The port commission in December voted to waive the cost of the lease as well as the $15 landing fees until August 2024 to allow Dash Air time to get established. After August 2024, Dash is expected to pay the port about $2,325 per month to lease the space.

Ostler spoke about Dash Airs’ potential to have electric planes in the coming years.

“Out of the gate, we are actually flying a vintage airplane; it is not carbon neutral,” he said.

“Our plan is to convert the airline into an electric airline as it grows, so it’s being built on a conventional platform right now. But we are looking three to five years down the road as the technology becomes more commercially viable,” Ostler said.