Space-available travelers living in the Azores will soon be trading Italian pasta for German schnitzel. Those in the United Kingdom and Turkey can start making pasta plans, while their counterparts in Italy can start researching British pub lunches.
Starting Oct. 8, two of the Patriot Express routes through Europe will offer a few new twists.
The weekly flight that used to pass from Lajes Field in the Azores through Aviano Air Base, Italy, on its way to Kuwait will stop at Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany instead of Aviano.
But those living in northern Italy will now have the option of stops at RAF Mildenhall, England, and Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, because the Air Mobility Command is adding the Italy stop to its existing England-Turkey route.
Contrary to rumors circulating on the Internet that servicemembers and retirees in northern Italy will lose space-A service, they’ll actually have more stops in Europe to choose from now. Flying to Atlanta won’t be as easy, though, because the Mildenhall flights originate in Baltimore.
“There’s not a whole lot changing here, except for the routing,” said Master Sgt. Tim Pratt, the operations supervisor at the passenger terminal at Aviano Air Base.
Air Mobility Command officials declined to comment about the changes, but sent a detailed list of the new routes and explained why such changes take place.
In this case, officials say that the move was prompted mainly by a request from the U.S. Central Command to have flights to Kuwait go through Rhein-Main.
Nine of the 10 weekly or biweekly Patriot Express routes include stops in Southwest Asia.
Rhein-Main, which is scheduled to close in 2005, sees more Patriot Express planes land on a regular basis than any other spot in Europe. In fact, other than the Baltimore-Mildenhall-Incirlik route that will now include Aviano, there is only one other weekly Patriot Express flight into Europe that doesn’t stop at Rhein-Main. That’s the route that goes from Norfolk Naval Air Station in Virginia to Naval Air Station Rota, Spain; Naval Air Station Sigonella and Bahrain.
Two biweekly routes that carry military passengers changing duty stations and those on leave to Naples and Souda Bay, Crete, en route to Bahrain also don’t stop at Rhein-Main. But five weekly routes and one biweekly route do.
Bases such as Aviano are served by other aircraft that passengers can sometimes use, Pratt said. But flights from hubs such as Ramstein Air Base in Germany using C-21 and C-130 aircraft are scheduled more based on need and availability than on specific timetables.