Alaskan News

Alaska Seaplanes launches every day flights between Juneau and Petersburg

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Alaska Seaplanes pilot John Cahill flew the company's first flight to Petersburg on a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft on Monday, April 5. (Joe Viechnicki / KFSK)

A new daily flight connection between Juneau and Petersburg was launched on Monday. Alaska Seaplanes flies its nine-passenger aircraft to James A. Johnson Airport twice a day and held a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the start of this service.

Shortly after the first flight landed, staff and community members crowded the Alaska Seaplanes office to cut cake and a ribbon.

Their office is at the former Pacific Wings site, which closed last year. Alaska Seaplanes offers commuter services from its Juneau hub to communities in the southeast along with Whitehorse in the Yukon.

Mike Stedman, co-owner of the company, noted his family's long ties with Petersburg.

"So it is very special, as I said, that we should start the ministry in Petersburg and help connect the churches in the southeast here," said Stedman. "You know that over the years a lot of people have asked us when we are going to Petersburg, when are you going to Wrangell. Here we are on the first flight to Petersburg on the first day and it is a really nice moment for us. I know really appreciate your showing up here. "

His cousin and Republican Senator from Sitka, Bert Stedman, was on the first flight out of the capital. He said the new connection will help in a region where the state's budget crisis has been felt for ferries and airports.

"We are keeping an eye on funding for the airport and the number of people coming and going at each airport," said Senator Stedman. "So it is very nice to see additional seaplane trips to Petersburg that depend on entry and exit and the way we distribute dollars at airports. So it doesn't all end in the north. It will be a really nice improvement to come from Petersburg and Juneau and back for more trading and then for those who have a family in Juneau or like me in Sitka where my sister could make it easier to get to our mother and to see them the pioneer home, which is very difficult. "

Mike Stedman, co-founder of Alaska Seaplanes, is cutting the ribbon for the new service at Petersburg Airport on Monday, April 5th. (Joe Viechnicki / KFSK)

Stedman also noted the expansion of the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Hospital in Sitka, which will serve local health patients from across the area. This twice-daily connection to Juneau enables a faster connection between Petersburg and Sitka compared to the longer stay with Alaska Airlines. Petersburg also offers a jet service twice a day from this larger airline.

Other companies have tried the daily connection between Petersburg and Juneau but have not seen the demand for passengers.

The first flight from Alaska Seaplane to Petersburg on Monday was on a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft. You will also use Cessna caravans. All of them can carry up to nine passengers.

Pilot John Cahill said it was not his first landing in Petersburg.

"I've been here a few times to train and otherwise, yeah, not too challenging, it reminds me a lot of Juneau just for the terrain and the stuff," said Cahill. "You just have to keep track of things and get to the runway safely."

These flights fly from Juneau to Petersburg and back twice a day, landing in Petersburg at around 9:15 am and 5:15 pm. and departure about 15 minutes later.

In Petersburg there are still local travel mandates for screening and COVID-19 tests. The emergency call center is looking into what it can do for incoming passengers from this new service.

Alaska Seaplanes is an underwriter for KFSK in Petersburg, where this story was produced.

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