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Lajes Space-A routes change

Posted 9/28/2007   Updated 9/28/2007 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Christin Michaud
65th ABW Public Affairs

9/28/2007 - LAJES FIELD, Portugal -- Lajes personnel who have traveled to the United States or Europe with the rotator will see a change Wednesday. 

The routine flights to Baltimore-Washington International have changed for the new fiscal year. Under the new contract, Lajes will still have Space-A opportunities to the Continental United States, but one of the destinations will now be Norfolk Naval Air Station, Va. 

These flights will be part of the Patriot Express mission which brings troops to and from the theater. "The new carrier is North American Airlines," said Master Sgt. Greg Boykin, 729th Air Mobility Squadron, Air Terminal Operations NCOIC. "We expect the same services that Miami Air provided." 

The Space-A flights to and from Lajes will continue to be offered on a weekly basis. "Every Friday we will have an opportunity to travel to Norfolk Naval Air Station," Sergeant Boykin explained. "Every Wednesday we have an opportunity to travel from Norfolk."
Most importantly, the seat availability will be about the same Lajes currently has, according to Sergeant Boykin. This is approximately 45-55 seats weekly.
Space-A passengers will still need to be aware of peak travel times and high PCS season. Summer months, or any time school is out are historically difficult for Space-A movement. 

The passenger terminal here is currently working on getting information on what travelers can expect when they arrive at Norfolk NAS. 

"The commercial airport is approximately 15-20 minutes away," said Sergeant Boykin. They Lajes terminal expects to be able to offer similar handouts like the ones currently available that list taxi and shuttle information for other AMC terminals. 

One change travelers can expect is that the flight times will vary weekly for security purposes. Flight arrival and departure times are listed in 3-4 hour windows as a force protection measure. 

In addition to the variation in time, there are two different routes the mission will follow when traveling eastbound. The first, scheduled to begin Wednesday is the Sigonella Route which originates in Norfolk late Tuesday night, travels to Lajes Field, Sigonella, Sicily and Souda Bay, Crete before continuing downrange. This route then returns from its downrange locations, stopping at Lajes on Friday before returning to Norfolk. The second route is the Naples Route which begins Oct. 10 and departs Norfolk early Wednesday morning, stops at Lajes, and continues to Naples, Italy and Souda Bay, Crete, before heading downrange. 

Regardless of the route they take, travelers can expect to depart Norfolk late Tuesday or early Wednesday on a red-eye type flight. 

The only real difference with the rotator is the destination. 

"We still have a means of traveling to Europe without having to spend a ton of money as well as a weekly flight to the States," Sergeant Boykin said. "If members are trying to go overseas, the opportunities are great," he said. "You can go to Sigonella or Naples and return in two weeks. Or you can travel to Souda Bay and return weekly. It really depends on what type of traveling you want to do." 

"I highly recommend folks try the flight to Souda Bay," said Col. Jeffrey Derrick, 65th Air Base Wing vice commander. "It's a great place to see." 

The Patriot Express route isn't the only opportunity people from Lajes have to travel to Europe. 

The 100th Air Refueling Wing from RAF Mildenhall, offers flights to England on the first and second Wednesday of each month. The next flight traveling to England is also on Wednesday and is scheduled to return to Lajes on Oct. 10. "Generally, the 100th ARW will send a KC-135 to Lajes on the first Wednesday of every month with return to Mildenhall. The second Wednesday of every month, the plane returns from Mildenhall to Lajes giving you in effect a roundtrip opportunity," explained Lt. Col. Robert Wagner, 65th Operations Support Squadron commander. 

The Sunday DC-8 flight to BWI and McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. will continue on the weekends. 

Lajes Personnel can be certain that even with the change, the terminal here will continue to serve Lajes personnel in the best manner possible. 

Space-A flights are subject to change. For details about flights, call the passenger terminal at 535-3227.

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