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SeaTac Shuttle controls island

Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle has cornered the market on land-based trips to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Co-owners John Solin and Mike Lauver announced this week that they have acquired the Oak Harbor operations of the Ferndale-based Bellair Airporter Shuttle.

As a result, beginning June 1, islanders heading to Sea-Tac Airport near Seattle will all be served by Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle. This service picks up passengers and drives them down the island, crossing to the mainland on the Clinton/Mukilteo ferry.

Bellair Airporter presently has two stops on Whidbey Island, at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and the ARCO station on Highway 20. Its route to the airport is via Highway 20 and Interstate 5. Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle already serves the base. It picks up Oak Harbor passengers at the south 7-Eleven, next to Burger King, and picks up more passengers on its way to Clinton.

The change had to be approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. Basically, Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle purchased Bellair’s authority to serve Whidbey Island, according to Lauver. “It’s been four months of negotiations and waiting for WUTC approval,” her said, describing the process. Bellair will continue serving Anacortes and areas north of Whidbey Island.

“With this acquisition both companies will be better positioned to provide premier service at a low price,” states a news release from Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle.

Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle started operations 3 1/2 years ago with two vans. Today it has eight vans and makes eight roundtrips daily between Whidbey Island and Sea-Tac. “We’re on the road 22 hours a day,” Solin said. “And we’re still growing.”

There is still competition for the airport crowd, as Kenmore Air offers five flights each day from Oak Harbor to Boeing Field, from where customers are bused to Sea-Tac. But Solin says the shuttle service’s ground-based approach is less weather-dependent. “We’re 99.9 percent reliable,” he said. “Nobody can compare to that.”

Kenmore Air is celebrating its first anniversary serving the island on May 20, and boasts about its quicker trips to the airport.

Kemore Air marketing director Craig O’Neil reports the company has flown nearly 10,000 passengers in the last year, while Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle served 30,000, according to Lauver. He expects that to increase to 40,000 to 45,000 with Bellair out of the picture.

For information about Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle, call 679-4003 or visit seatacshuttle.com.

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