News

Whidbey air station provides alternatives to Harbor Air

"With Harbor Air no longer serving Oak Harbor, Navy officials at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station are most concerned about keeping sailors from being stranded at SeaTac Airport.We're working some things out with the region, Richard Rose, base command master chief said of the base administration's discussions with Navy Region Northwest about the situation. There is a funding issue involved, said Rose.Sailors flying into SeaTac were able to take a Harbor Air flights, through a contract with the Navy, to get to Whidbey Island. The Navy, then, would supply transportation from the Oak Harbor airport to the naval air station.The immediate remedy employed by Navy commands on the base is to send a duty driver down to SeaTac to pick up incoming sailors there, said Rose.(The commands will) be more involved in picking up their sailors, Rose said.Additionally, the base is using all available channels to ensure that incoming sailors are informed of what they are supposed to do upon arriving at SeaTac. The goal is to provide guidance to those who have never been here before, said Kimberly Martin, naval air station public affairs officer.Air station officials have been in contact with Navy detailers, those who issue military orders to servicemembers. Incoming sailors' orders will tell them to report to the shuttle counter at SeaTac for transportation to Oak Harbor, Martin said.We've contacted all the places that send us people, said Martin, which includes boot camps, so that up-to-date travel information can be provided to arriving sailors.We want to make sure they get a good welcome, Martin said, and not feel overwhelmed by their arrival in an unfamiliar place.Additionally, Martin said, the United Service Organization facility at SeaTac is on alert and helping out to direct sailors to the transportation services headed to the base.The shut-down of Harbor Air at the Oak Harbor airport on Wednesday was not a surprise to officials at the naval air station.Several weeks ago when Harbor Air lost its gate privileges at SeaTac, airline representatives contacted air station officials.They gave us a courtesy call, said Martin. Harbor Air contacted us to let us know that they were having a problem at SeaTac.You can reach News-Times reporter Christine Smith at csmith@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611 "

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