PenAir Ends Air Service to Akutan

Friday, October 26 2012

It’s official: “No more flights of the Goose. The Goose is done.”

That's the word from PenAir president Danny Seybert. As the Dutch Harbor Fisherman first reported, Goose service to Akutan ended over the weekend.

“They took my runway away. I have no place to land," Seybert says.

By runway, Seybert means the concrete seaplane ramp that the Goose used to haul out on. It was modified over the summer to accommodate the hovercraft that runs between Akutan and the new airstrip on Akun Island, and Seybert says those modifications made it unusable for the Goose. For the last few months, the plane has been pulling up on the gravel beach in front of town.

“There’s becoming extreme wear and tear on the landing gear system and if I don’t stop flying it, we’re going to end up with a Goose that’s on the beach over there with no way to get it home," Seybert says.

The abrupt end of service wasn’t announced to the public, although Seybert says he did contact a number of state and federal agencies, including the federal Department of Transportation. The DOT is responsible for finding a new air carrier to serve the route – it’s currently reviewing a proposal from Grant Aviation. Public comment is due on that proposal by November 8. The DOT says it doesn’t plan to move that deadline in light of the new circumstances.

So, passengers wanting to get to Akutan will have to either hitch a ride on a fishing vessel or charter a plane into the new airport. Seybert says anyone with a PenAir ticket will be refunded in full.

“And the mail and freight – as soon as the new service starts to Akun and they figure out how they’re going to get from Akun to Akutan, we will transfer all the freight and mail to a new carrier.”

In the meantime, the Postal Service says it’s looking at other ways to keep the mail moving. Bob Lochmann is the transportation and networks manager for the Alaska region. He says a Grant Aviation charter flight took mail to Akutan on Thursday and that that Postal Service will use any means available to ensure mail delivery until a new air carrier takes over the route.

Columbo on Wednesday, October 31 2012:

just one more thing...

To ADOT & PF TEAM; next time hire a few locals or natives when designing such large projects.

fisherman on Tuesday, October 30 2012:

ps Akun is also not a good place to take shelter or to harbor there. Akun is a flat island. That's is one reason the Aleuts never settled there.
Some nitwit came up with the idea of putting an airport there.

Fisherman on Tuesday, October 30 2012:

to rolling my eye;

Yes the weather is about the same in King Cove, Akutan, and Akun but the seas are different! Take a look a chart or a map. I have been to Akutan and harbored at the beach in Akun. To go from Akun to Akutan you have to go through open seas and the Akun Strait. Even on a crab boat those are treacherous waters.
The hovercraft will not work great going from Akun to Akutan.

John Schroeder on Monday, October 29 2012:

There's lots of small Alaskan communities that don't have airports, especially $77 million dollar airports. Of course most of them don't have a fish processor with 7-900 employees to fly back and forth.

Lets sell the airport to the fish processor.

Talk about pork!!

rolling my eyes on Sunday, October 28 2012:

The hovercraft worked out great for King Cove... they've had theirs for 5 years now and have sorted out all the kinks.

Oh wait. Sorry. I forgot. It's on blocks because it was determined to be an inappropriate design for Aleutian weather and was too expensive to operate.

Flier on Sunday, October 28 2012:

My very first trip to Akutan from Dutch was on a Goose, oh so many years ago. Most exciting landing ever, on the water.

I wish I had got to go on that flight one last time before they ended.

nearby resident on Saturday, October 27 2012:

Another side of the story.,0

taxpayer on Saturday, October 27 2012:

taxpayer on Saturday, October 27 2012:

Whoever thought up and designed the $77 million dollar airport should be fired. Can we cancel and get a refund on this airport? Yes a ferry would have been a better idea. Anyway the airport is there. I think we should cancel and send back the Hovercraft. How about a smaller ferry or local fishing boats take the passengers from the new airport at the unihabitated Akun island to Akutan a 7 mile ride.

Loch Ness on Friday, October 26 2012:

So roughly 13 million dollars for the hovercraft, $870,000 each year in operational costs for the hover craft and 77 million dollars for the new airport. Maybe a ferry between Dutch and Akutan would have been a better idea.

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