I read with interest the letters in the April 26th edition regarding the possibility of the Port of Coupeville purchasing the Oak Harbor airport. Bill Dion makes some excellent points. Despite suggestions to the contrary by Marianne Burr and Bill Roberts, there are people in the community who support public ownership of the airport and recognize the potential benefits – I am one of them and I am not a pilot.
My family has lived on Whidbey for over 50 years, and I remember when we still had commercial air service from the island to SeaTac over 20 years ago. At the time my work required me to travel quite a bit and I was a regular customer who was disappointed when it stopped. Now that we’re retired, my husband and I continue to travel to visit family and friends, and we enjoy hosting out-of-state guests who fly in to SeaTac. When we leave from SeaTac, we must either drive over and spend a small fortune to park, or take the shuttle. Either way, we often also pay to stay at an airport hotel the night before an early morning flight.
When visitors fly in, we usually drive the round trip to SeaTac to pick them up and then again to drop them off. I’m sure we’re not the only ones who wish there was an option for direct commercial flights between Whidbey and SeaTac. It makes sense that public ownership of the airport is the only way this would be possible. With our aging ferry fleet and the challenges they’ve faced getting enough crew, residents and visitors need another alternative to ‘driving around’ when traveling to and from the island. If San Juan Island can support and benefit from a municipal airport, surely Whidbey could as well. Let’s not miss this opportunity to improve the infrastructure of Whidbey Island.