Members of the Puyallup Tribal Council and Kenmore Air leadership recently touched down at the Puyallup Tribal Air Terminal for the first official seaplane flight into Ruston Way, marking the start of flights from Tacoma’s Commencement Bay.
The first public flights began in August and are continuing at a new seaplane dock positioned between the RAM Restaurant and Brewery at 3001 Ruston Way and the site of the former C.I. Shenanigan’s restaurant. Tickets are on sale at kenmoreair.com.
Tribal Council and Kenmore Air representatives attended a grand-opening that included a blessing, drumming and dancing. Council Chairman Bill Sterud spoke about the significance of the terminal to the tribe’s economic development, and Kenmore Air president David Gudgel shared his thoughts about the seaplane operator’s partnership with the tribe and expansion into the South Sound.
“This is a fun day, a historic day,” Sterud said. “Not to brag, but we like to think big, we like to think out of the box, and you never know where we’re gonna go. We’re going up in the air now.”
Other elected officials at the ceremony included U.S. Rep. Marilyn Strickland, state Sen. Yasmin Trudeau, and Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier.
Kenmore Air’s current scenic-flight season will run until Oct. 15, with planes taking passengers on a 20-minute flight over the South Sound. The flights will then resume in April, and flight operations may expand with service to the San Juan Islands and Victoria, B.C., officials said.
Expanded air service would also open the tribe’s casinos and hospitality venues to visitors from British Columbia and beyond. In May 2020, the tribe opened its $400 million Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma next to Interstate 5 and an accompanying 155-room hotel in December 2021. More recently, the tribe inaugurated sports betting at its Tacoma casino and its EQC location in Fife through a partnership with BetMGM.