There will no change in Alaska Airlines’ status as the provider of Essential Air Service for Southeast Alaska communities after the U.S. Department of Transportation issued an order in February continuing the EAS through 2015 – and Alaska Airlines will retain the designation as the provider of the service.
“On February 11, we issued an order re-selecting Alaska Airlines to provide Essential Air Service in five communities in Southeast Alaska,” said USDOT spokesperson Bill Moseley. “That order covers the period from May 1, 2013 through April 30, 2015. The idea of EAS is to ensure that people who live in small and remote communities have access to the air transportation system.”
Alaska Airlines’ communications manager Marianne Lindsey stated that there is no change in Combi, Freight or passenger service planned for Wrangell or Petersburg.
“There’s no changes in the works for Alaska Airlines’ Wrangell and greater (Southeast) Alaska schedule at all,” she stated. “Our schedule and aircraft remain unchanged.”
In January, Wrangell Borough Manager Tim Rooney informed the Assembly of Alaska Airlines recent re-application for the subsidy.
The Borough, chamber of commerce and business owners in Petersburg were also encouraged to support the airline’s bid for continued EAS designation.
Rooney asked that some of the talking points in the letters include the importance of Alaska Airlines flights to Wrangell and Petersburg providing single plane service to Juneau, Ketchikan, Anchorage, and Seattle, the importance of having significant cargo carrying capability to benefit Southeast’s efforts to increase shipments of fresh seafood, and the importance of Alaska Airlines investment in required navigation performance flight technology which allows continued access to airports in Southeast during periods of harsh weather.
Alaska Airlines is the only carrier certified for such instrument flight approaches in the state of Alaska.
The EAS program was created in 1978, as part of the Airline Deregulation Act to ensure small and isolated communities continued to receive air service by providing federal subsidies when necessary to maintain continuous service.