Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
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  • Between Friday and Monday, Alaska’s biggest regional airline laid off 130 of its 400-plus employees. At this point, the nine communities served by Ravn Alaska can expect fewer flights, though none of its destinations will be eliminated, a company spokesperson said.
  • Excessive rain in Unalaska has led to a flood warning, and the city has closed several roads and public buildings. The National Weather Service said Tuesday between 3 to 3.5 inches of rain had already fallen in the last 24 hours and that up to 5.5 inches were possible. The one-day total precipitation — 3.76 inches as of 10 a.m. Tuesday — ranks in the top-10 highest on record.
  • New regional airline Aleutian Airways touched down at Unalaska’s Tom Madsen Airport on Nov. 16., and with it arrived the hope of more stable and affordable air service to the remote Aleutian Island. The roughly 15 passengers on board Aleutian Airways’ inaugural flight from Anchorage were greeted by a few dozen cheering Unalaskans, including local officials from the city and school district. “It's nice to see change,” said local Karley Parker. “And it's a very welcome change. I'm glad that we have options. It's much needed here in Unalaska, for competition and rates and just getting people off the island.”
  • Aleutian Airways plans to start regularly scheduled service between Unalaska and Anchorage next month, according to a statement released by the airline Tuesday morning. Fares for a one-way ticket will start at $659, while a refundable ticket will cost $939. Those fares are about the same as the ones offered by Ravn Alaska — the other airline currently servicing the island. The new regional carrier, which is operated by Sterling Airways, will offer daily flights Monday through Friday, on its Saab 2000 aircraft, which is a high-speed turboprop plane that holds around 50 passengers.
  • Aleutian Airways has been granted approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to start charter and scheduled air service to Unalaska. That’s according to a statement released by the new regional airline Wednesday morning. While charters will start immediately, the company says it will announce scheduled routes within the next two weeks. The news comes just one week after the company ran a successful test flight of its Saab 2000 aircraft to Unalaska’s Tom Madsen airport.
  • With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, fuel costs spiked across the nation, inciting a rise in air travel costs. Then a slew of factors compounded the problem: inflation, bad weather, pilot shortages and loads of people traveling sent those prices even higher. And in Unalaska, 800 air miles from Anchorage, nestled between the Bering Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, those costs are landing a hard blow.
  • A Saab 2000 aircraft landed in Unalaska Wednesday morning for the first time in three years. It was a test flight for Aleutian Airways, a new regional carrier operated by Sterling Airways, to demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration they are qualified to land the Saab 2000 aircraft at Tom Madsen International Airport.
  • Mack Rutherford is on a quest to be the youngest person ever to fly solo around the world. The 17-year-old landed Monday in Unalaska in his Shark ultralight plane.
  • A new airline that’s announced regular air connections between Unalaska and Anchorage has delayed its launch to the island until next spring, saying it’s studying safety recommendations made in the wake of 2019’s fatal crash at Dutch Harbor involving the same type of aircraft.
  • Faulty wiring, lax oversight by regulators and inexperienced crew were all factors leading up to Unalaska’s fatal 2019 plane crash, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The board revealed its findings on Tuesday after a two-year investigation.