YAKIMA: Commercial flights will resume but control tower is out, officials say

UPDATE, 4:45 p.m. — Commercial flights will resume Friday evening at the Yakima Airport, but officials said the air traffic control tower will stay closed due to the damage it sustained during the morning’s fatal accident.

According to a news release, FAA inspectors determined the tower could not be occupied as its structural support beams are compromised.

“Even though the tower cannot be accessed, flights are able to resume at the airport,” said City of Yakima Communications and Public Affairs Director Randy Beehler. “Pilots can announce their locations to each other via radio. They are trained to utilize an airport even without the assistance of air traffic controllers.”

For the latest flight information, click here.

YAKIMA, Wash. —  Crews are working to restore power to the Yakima Airport after a car crashed into its power boxes and control tower Friday, causing substantial damage and cancelling at least one flight.

Interim airport director Jaime Vera said they’re putting in new transformers and estimate the power will be back on between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. for the airport and tomorrow for nearby businesses.

READ: Yakima PD: 19-year-old driver ‘critical’ after crashing into airport control tower

Vera said the airport has provided any businesses affected in the area — including ALS and McCormick Aircraft Maintenance — with temporary backup generators.

Afternoon flights to and from the Yakima Airport will likely be cancelled

However, even when power is restored, Vera said they cannot use the control tower until they can get Federal Aviation Administration officials to assess the structural damage and give them clearance to operate out of it.

“At this point, we don’t know exactly what the damages are to the air traffic control tower, but that assessment is going to reveal what needs to be done to get it fixed,” Vera said.

Vera said if the power is restored early enough and FAA officials are able to get to Yakima quickly to conduct an assessment and clear them to operate out of the control tower, flights will resume as normal.

“We’re hopeful to maybe not have to cancel the afternoon flight but again, if the FAA does not give us the structural clearance to operate out of the tower, we could run into another cancellation this afternoon,” Vera said.

Vera said if they find the structural damage is bad enough to where they can’t operate safely, the airport will not be able to resume flights until a temporary control tower can be put in place — which could take a while.

“It’s really unknown; it really depends on the extensity of the damage, right?” Vera said. “It could be a small beam that just gets recreated or it could be so substantial that it could be threatening to the employees that operate the cab of the tower.”

Alternate transportation available through Bellair Airporter Shuttle

Vera said they advise anyone who is scheduled for the 1:01 p.m. flight from Seattle to Yakima or the 2:20 p.m. flight from Yakima to Seattle to start thinking about alternate arrangements. Another flight from Seattle to Yakima is scheduled to depart at 10:55 p.m.

Bellair Airporter Shuttle is operating Friday and has a shuttle leaving Yakima at 2 p.m. to arrive in Seattle around 5:30 p.m. The cost for a single adult passenger is $54.

The service also has shuttles from Seattle to Yakima scheduled for 1:30 to 5:05 p.m., 4 p.m. to 7:35 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10:35 p.m. listed at the same price.

Vera said anyone with questions about potential refunds for a cancelled flight or the status of an upcoming flight will need to contact Alaska Airlines directly by calling their customer service line at 1-800-252-7522.

“At this point, they would have to work directly with the airlines to see what they can do and how they can accommodate them,” Vera said.


READ: FBI Task Force operation in Yakima County leads to seven indictments