Aleutian Airways Launches Daily Anchorage-Dutch Harbor Flights
A new regional airline is serving the Aleutian Islands, with the inaugural flight of Aleutian Airways from Anchorage to Dutch Harbor and back.
Another Happy Landing
The flight took off Wednesday morning from Gate L2 at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. About a dozen guests and a couple paying customers walked out on the tarmac and climbed the stairs to the Saab 2000 turboprop airliner.
A Ravn Airways De Havilland Dash 8 had taken off for Dutch Harbor about one hour earlier, yet once in the air, the Saab 2000 lapped its competitor. The aircraft can fly at 30,000 feet, whereas the Ravn plane flies through thicker air at 20,000 feet.
Thus, Aleutian Airways arrived 30 minutes ahead of the Ravn flight, landing at Tom Madsen Dutch Harbor Airport under a cloudy, rainy sky. About a mile out from Unalaska Island, the plane skims about 1,000 feet above the water before touching down on the notoriously short runway.
The flight marks the return of the Saab 2000 to Unalaska, after a rough landing in 2019 left one passenger dead.
“It’s a big day for us and for the community,” says Wayne Heller, CEO and president. “The journey to get here has been a long and challenging process, but we are officially open for business and ready to provide best in class service to our guests traveling to and from Dutch Harbor over the up-and-coming holidays and into the busy A season.”
The “A” season in the Aleutians starts with the opening of commercial fisheries in January.
The flight from Dutch Harbor back to Anchorage was nearly full, with about fifty passengers. Drinks and snacks were served on board.
The Saab 2000 is somewhat old; the last one was built in Sweden in 1999. The restroom still has an ashtray installed. Aleutian Airways is talking of buying a third plane and may expand service to other stops, yet to be determined.
A New Aleutian Option
Round-trip flights are scheduled Monday through Friday, leaving Anchorage at 7:15 a.m. and arriving in Dutch Harbor two and a half hours later. The plane turns around after an hour and returns to Anchorage by 1 p.m., although the airline says service levels will increase after Christmas.
The airline also books charter flights to most major destinations in the Aleutian Islands and throughout Alaska.
Non-refundable fares start as low as $659 one-way, with a refundable ticket set at $939, comparable to prices offered by Ravn Alaska. Each passenger is allowed one personal item and one checked bag under 50 lbs. at no additional charge.
Aleutian Airways, operated by Sterling Airways, is a joint venture of Wexford Capital, McKinley Alaska Private Investment, and Alaska Seaplanes. Sterling Airways is a portfolio company of Wexford Capital, an investment firm with offices in Connecticut, Florida, and Oklahoma. McKinley Alaska Private Investment is an Anchorage-based branch of McKinley Management. Alaska Seaplanes has been operating from its hub in Juneau since 1997, connecting fourteen communities with year-round passenger and cargo service.