Kotzebue residents will see changes in the flights to the Northwest Alaska hub starting in late August, according to Alaska Airlines.
Spokesperson Marianne Lindsey said this week that flights between Anchorage and Nome and Anchorage and Kotzebue will go from three daily flights to two starting Aug. 25. However, more seats will be available and one of the flights will be nonstop and fully dedicated for passenger aircraft to Anchorage.
All of the flights will be operated on a full-size Boeing 737, Lindsey noted.
"We are always reviewing our aircraft utilization and loads," Lindsey said. "In the past and currently we have utilized a combi (part cargo and part passenger) aircrafts, which means less seats for passengers. The new direct routes will provide better aircraft utilization and actually mean more seats in both markets for sale."
The eliminated service will be the mid-day flights, No. 152, which left Anchorage at 10:40 a.m. and arrived in Kotzebue at 1:32 p.m. The flight also left Kotzebue at 2:17 p.m. and arrived in Anchorage at 3:40 p.m.
Starting Aug. 25, flights will leave from Anchorage at 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and arrive in Kotzebue at 8:33 a.m. and 6 p.m. respectively. Flights will leave Kotzebue at 9:20 a.m., arriving in Anchorage at 10:44 a.m. and leaving at 6:45 p.m. arriving at 9:33 p.m.
In towns like Kotzebue, where airplanes are virtually the only means of travel, such a change is a significant adjustment. Facebook posts noted frustration with the change from area residents.
"We realize this is a bit different then what most residents are accustomed to, so we are making sure to get information out in advance so residents can plan accordingly," Lindsey said.
Alaska Airlines has drawn some fire in recent days for plans to change its jets serving Fairbanks as well. The 737 jets are being replaced with three Bombardier Q400 planes starting next March, according to reports from the Associated Press.
The turboprops seat some 76 people, and flying time is similar to the jets, but the turbroprops are said to have some disadvantages, too, such as passengers having to board outside and no space for carry-on baggage.
However, the Fairbanks schedule is supposed to increase its number of flights from Anchorage, reports say.
This story first appeared in The Arctic Sounder. Carey Restino can be reached at crestino(at)reportalaska.com.