ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- The CAT-B flight that travels from Norfolk to Rota, Spain; to Sigonella, Siciy; to Bahrain was cut back to once every two weeks beginning in October, due to low official business usage.
The Patriot Express (CAT-B) flights shuttle permanent change of station (PCS) and temporary additional duty (TAD) personnel from the continental United States (CONUS) out to the various bases around the world.
"What it boils down to is, the usage numbers for official passengers is low and the usage of Space A passengers is high," explained Lt. j.g. Chris Cramer, the contracting officer's representative for the air terminal. "The government can't justify all those Space A seats, so they cut the number of flights."
"The contract has been signed for [the Patriot Express] in Fiscal Year 2005 to go 26 missions, and they're every two weeks, starting with Oct. 4-5," Cramer added. "If the usage is there, then we'll continue getting the CAT-B, at least until 2008 when [Gen. John W. Handy, commander, U.S. Transportation Command] says they're going to phase it out completely."
Leaders at the Personnel Support Detachment (PSD) say that customer service will remain pretty much the same, with the exception that when the Patriot Express is phased out completely, all of the PCS and TAD flights will be commercial.
"We're going to use the CAT-B first, and whenever the CAT-B can't accommodate, we're going to use commercial transportation," said Lt. Bernie Salazar, PSD officer in charge. "It's the same procedure, but instead of doing it weekly, it's going to be every two weeks."
"We're more reactive on that issue," said Chief Personnelman (AW) Winifredo Artuz, PSD transportation officer. "Whatever the date is that they are approved for transfer is what we go by."
According to Artuz, commercial flights seem to be better at stations without American Mobility Command (AMC) flights.
"It's always been my experience that when you don't have an AMC flight, when everybody flies commercial, everybody seems to be happy," Artuz said. "You have more options to choose from, more flexibility."
There are also other options for Space Available passengers who are worried about that 2008 mark for complete cancellation of the Patriot Express.
"The CAT-B is typically seen as the biggest opportunity for Space A travel, and travelers like that. But in reality, there are many other options for travelers trying to get out of Rota or into Rota using Space A," Cramer said. "There are flights to several locations in the states, several locations in Europe - it just depends on the dates. They should be able to go both ways pretty easily just on normal Space Available aircraft."
For related news, visit the Naval Station Rota, Spain Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/rota.