Grounded Western Airlines Vacating Airport Office

Apr. 3 -- BELLINGHAM. Wash. -- Western Airlines Inc. is expected to vacate its office in the Bellingham International Airport terminal building by Friday.

Art Choat, Port of Bellingham aviation director, said executives of the startup air service have agreed to the move, and have promised to come up with the $1,300 in back rent they owe the port.

Air service spokeswoman Dawnell Fish did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Last week she said Western was still working toward an eventual resumption of operations.

Western ceased operations Feb. 7, citing a financial foul-up that prevented collection of revenue from passengers' credit card charges.

Choat said Western's staffers can probably find cheaper office space than the $3,000- per-month facilities they occupied on the terminal's second floor, while they work toward getting back into the air for the first time since early February.

"It's probably a pretty good business decision until they get regrouped and are ready to move forward," Choat said.

Western owed the port $21,300 in unpaid rent as of March 20, and the port recouped $20,000 of that by collecting on a bank letter of credit that had been given to the port as a condition of its lease, he said.

The $21,300 included lease payments for space next to the terminal where Western had installed a mobile structure for passenger check-in shortly before it began flights on Jan. 18. Choat said the company that provided the structure has repossessed it.

Choat said he's among those who hope that Western can work through its financial problems and get back in business.

"I wish them the best," he said.

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