By Debbie Cockrell, The News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash.
New flights are on the way this year from the Puyallup Tribal Air Terminal on Ruston Way with Kenmore Air.
In an announcement, the Tribe said that new routes linking “South Sound destinations such as Emerald Queen Casino to beautiful San Juan Islands” would start with the second season launch of flights May 16.
The flights will depart from Tacoma at 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.; return flights arrive at 11:45 a.m. and 6:15 p.m.
According to the announcement, tickets are US$269 per person one-way “and only 55 minutes long, compared to the minimum four-hour drive commute to get from Tacoma to San Juan Islands via the state ferry system.”
Flights can be booked at kenmoreair.com.
New this year, the terminal also will feature Woven, “a Native/internationally inspired restaurant in partnership with world-renowned Chef Roy Yamaguchi,” according to the release.
Yamaguchi and the Tribe’s restaurant plans were first announced in 2022.
“South Sound scenic flight tours will also continue, with Kenmore Air planes taking passengers on a 30-minute narrated flight over the South Sound for US$109 per person,” the release added. Those flights include views of Mount Rainier, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Commencement Bay and Puget Sound.
“In just over two months of operation last year, the Puyallup Air Terminal had more than 100 flights with almost 1,000 passengers,” the Tribe noted in the release.
“The first year of the Puyallup Air Terminal was a huge success and will continue to be a success with the addition of flights to San Juan Island,” said the Puyallup Tribal Council, the Tribe’s governing body.
The partnership between Kenmore Air and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians was first announced in 2022 and is part of an overall economic diversification and tourism push that builds off the Tribe’s $400 million Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, along with an adjacent hotel.
The Tribe’s expanding economic base includes partnering with Amazon on a new sorting center, purchasing candy maker AMES International last year and launching Tahoma Global Logistics.
Tuesday’s announcement also noted that future plans include “an aviation job training program for interested Puyallup Tribal members.”
“This partnership underscores our mutual desire to elevate travel experiences and foster growth in the region, and we look forward to the growth path ahead,” David Gudgel, president of Kenmore Air, said in a statement.
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