Traveling to Dutch Harbor? Things are changing

In Destination, Dutch Harbor by scott

Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Church in Unalaska

Dutch Harbor, 796 miles southwest of Anchorage, is off the road system. But to say it’s “remote” is only partially correct. For the past 21 years, Dutch Harbor is listed as the U.S.’s busiest fishing port. Because of that, the port teems with activity: American President Lines and Matson Line provide container shipping to/from Asia and the West Coast. In the summer, cruise ships call on their way to/from Asia. There are fishing boats clogging the harbor, getting ready for another season of “Deadliest Catch”-class crabbing.

Penair #3296 overshot the runway in Dutch Harbor on Oct. 17, 2019. One person died.

Last month, a PenAir flight overshot the runway. One person was killed and several were injured. PenAir, a subsidiary of Ravn Air Group, suspended scheduled service.

Since that time, citizens, companies and even the City of Unalaska have been chartering planes to get people to and from Anchorage. The city chartered Ravn Dash-8 aircraft. Others have chartered planes from ACE (Alaska Central Express) and Security Aviation. There’s also a Facebook group for coordinating plane charters.

Aerial view of Unalaska and Dutch Harbor (connected by the bridge to the other side).

Recently, Ravn Air has started scheduled passenger service again. But not on the Saab 2000, one of which was involved in the fatal accident. Rather, the service is on the slower, smaller deHavilland Dash-8. According to Ravn’s schedule, it takes between 3.5 and 4 hours to fly from Anchorage.

Further, the Saab 2000 flights by PenAir were operated on behalf of Alaska Airlines. That meant travelers could earn and burn frequent flyer miles on the flights. The new flights on Ravn’s Dash 8s are not affiliated with Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Air has cancelled all of its cooperative flights with PenAir through May 31, 2020. Since many travelers had purchased tickets through Alaska Airlines for the flights, the carrier is automatically re-booking them on the Ravn flights, at no additional charge. This also applies to mileage award tickets.

Currently, Ravn is offering between one and three departures each day between Anchorage and Dutch Harbor. Flights are available through Christmas Day. 

There are no scheduled flights listed after that.

Alaska Airlines is updating its Dutch Harbor actions with this LETTER.

Ravn Alaska spells out its policies regarding Dutch Harbor flights HERE.

The City of Unalaska is working on several fronts to shore up its air service, including the EMERGENCY DECLARATION, a special WHITE PAPER on air service…and one assembly member even is considering LEGAL ACTION because of the economic hardship to the community.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continues its investigation into the Oct. 17 Ravn crash. CLICK HERE to read the preliminary investigation documents the pilot in command (PIC) had 20,000 flight hours, with 101 flight hours in the Saab 2000.

The Grand Aleutian Hotel in Unalaska.

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