Seaplanes seek military flyers

Kenmore Air’s new seaplane service between Oak Harbor and Seattle has been a little slow since starting April 8, but business should be soaring a little higher in the near future.

Craig Sternagel, the marketing director for Kenmore Air, said the company is in the process of jumping through some hoops in order to get their service on a computerized travel booking system that the military uses.

Once that’s accomplished, Sternagel said Kenmore hopes to pick up business from the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. Kenmore Air provides a connection to Sea-Tac Airport that may be very convenient to Navy folks.

The 25-minute seaplane flight goes from the Oak Harbor marina to Lake Union in downtown Seattle. From there, the company offers a shuttle run to Sea-Tac.

The tickets cost $65 each way. There are three runs a day.

Right now, Sternagel said they’re carrying only an average of one or two people a flight. But he said the company administrators aren’t too worried. They never expected Oak Harbor residents to be able to support the service, but were counting on the military travel.

Also, Sternagel admits that the seaplane service has some limitations and won’t be able to fit everyone’s schedule. Seaplanes only fly during daylight, so there are no late night flights.

On the positive side, Sternagel said he’s been amazed at how supportive the Oak Harbor business community and the city has been. At a recent city council meeting, the council members unanimously approved an agreement to allow Kenmore to put in mooring floats and land seaplanes at the city’s marina.

Under the agreement, Kenmore Air will pay the marina a standard slip fee of $203 a month for the float after a six-month no-fee period to help the company with start-up costs.

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