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Ketchikan Daily News Salutes Business Aviation, Airports in Alaska

September 21, 2012

In a Sept. 18 editorial, the Ketchikan Daily News applauded business aviation in Alaska and noted the importance of the state’s 255 public-use airports. Ketchikan, which has 8,119 residents, is the largest community in far southeastern Alaska.

“We wouldn’t get anywhere (fast) without it – the aviation industry,” declared the newspaper editorial. “Eleven aviation companies service Ketchikan... they’re all providing a service we often take for granted and couldn’t appreciate more, particularly when we want to get somewhere quickly.

“The aviation industry is dependent on Alaska's 255 airports, most of which are in small rural communities. Without working airports, 82 percent of Alaska's communities would be without a year-round means of travel from their rural homes.

“Aviation is an economic engine here and around the state,” continued the editorial, “generating 47,000 jobs and $3.5 billion annually. It supports the oil, fishing, and mining industries, as well as other industries that Alaskans depend upon. Those industries rely on aviation for the transport of people and cargo.

“We Alaskans rely on the aviation industry in a myriad of ways; from the trips we take to visit family, to fun in the sun, to all sorts of entertainment, to conducting business. Alaskans in this industry of hard-working, dedicated aviators deserve our appreciation, for they make it possible for us to fly.”

Business flying is an integral part of life in Alaska, partly because of the state’s vastness, but more because roads serve only about one fifth of communities in the state. Major airlines serve only Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and Fairbanks International Airport, but GA aircraft carry passengers and virtually everything else to the other 253 public-use airports.

“There’s a good reason Alaska has 16 times as many aircraft per capita than the Lower 48 states,” said Ed Bolen, NBAA President and CEO. “In a state where so many towns have no roads, how else would you reach current and prospective customers?”

Alaska has long been a unique environment for business flying, where GA airplanes are regarded as a routine mode of transportation similar to automobiles. The Discovery Channel series “Flying Wild Alaska” is based on a family-owned flight operation in the northern part of the state that routinely supplies isolated communities with emergency medical evacuation and a host of other vital services. Also, in an August 2010 NBC Today Show report, correspondent Michelle Kosinski showed an Alaskan pilot climbing into his airplane while describing it as a pickup truck. She added that in Alaska, airplanes have the right of way on roads.