In-state flights, routes and carriers are always changing. Here’s what’s new in Alaska this summer.

Since air travel is an important part of Alaska life, I like to know about new routes and new air carriers that are operating in the state.

But Anchorage-Shageluk was an odd one on the list this month. Alaska Air Transit started operating the route on Wednesdays and Sundays earlier this month. The carrier flies a Pilatus PC-12 on the route.

Shageluk, a small village on the Innoko River (which flows into the Yukon), is one of four villages in the GASH region that includes Grayling, Anvik and Holy Cross. Starting next week on June 25, Alaska Air Transit will offer service between the villages, in addition to the nonstop service to Anchorage.

Dan and Josie Owen purchased the air carrier in 2004, when it had just two aircraft. Dan had retired after a 20-year career as a captain with Delta Air Lines.

Although Alaska Air Transit operates charter flights around the state, its scheduled service was primarily between Anchorage and the Prince William Sound communities of Tatitlek and Chenega.

“When we took over the business, the previous owner told us to answer the phone, be attentive and take care of people and you’ll be fine,” said Josie Owen. Today, Josie is in charge of customer service, while Dan is the director of operations.

Since 2004, the air carrier has expanded its fleet to include four Pilatus PC-12s and two Cessna 208s. The carrier also has expanded its scheduled service to include Takotna and Nikolai in the Kuskokwim River drainage near McGrath. The carrier doesn’t offer scheduled service to McGrath, though. Another carrier, Reeve Air Alaska, flies that route from Anchorage.


Dan is a big fan of the Pilatus PC-12. “I love everything about it,” he said. “It’s safe, quiet and pressurized. It flies at about 260 knots (300 mph).”

As a Part 135 air carrier, Alaska Air Transit is limited to nine passengers per flight, but they fill up the rest of each flight with freight and luggage.

Routes like Anchorage-Shageluk and Anchorage-Takotna aren’t popular tourist schedules. “We fly the real people of Alaska,” said Josie. “Ours is a year-round operation. We’re committed.”

Passengers on the flights include village residents, construction workers, school district employees, state and federal government workers and other infrastructure workers including telecom repair workers.

On all of Alaska Air Transit’s flights, there is a standard fare, as well as a resident fare. For example, between Anchorage and Shageluk, the standard fare is $600 one-way and includes 50 pounds of luggage. The resident fare is $475 one-way.

Between Anchorage and Tatitlek, the standard fare is $390 one-way, but the resident fare is $140 one-way.

Alaska Air Transit’s new routes to the GASH region on the Yukon River developed largely through word of mouth. The carrier was doing charter flights and residents asked about scheduled service.

“It’s nice to be invited,” said Josie.

Scheduled service for the air carrier still accounts for less than 20% of the flight hours. Frequent charter destinations include the North Slope, Juneau, Dutch Harbor and mining operations around the state.

Although the Pilatus PC-12 is Dan’s plane of choice, the Cessna 208s are essential for unimproved airstrips. Also, the cost is less for trips under 200 miles.

Since Alaska Air Transit flies in and out of Anchorage’s Merrill Field airport, travelers must make their way over to Ted Stevens Anchorage for connecting flights.

Shageluk isn’t at the top of my travel list — but for the people who live there (or other villages in the GASH region), it’s the fastest way to get to Anchorage. Other air carriers, including Ryan Air, offer connecting service to Anchorage through Aniak.

[Alaska Airlines adds new flight to Hawaii from Everett, Washington]

May and June are when new routes typically are added to accommodate the summertime traffic. Not just tourists, either. Construction workers and fisheries workers are lining up for tickets, too.

Kenai Aviation recently started operating scheduled flights between Anchorage, Kenai and Homer. They’ve increased the number of flights for the summer.

With their new Tecnam Traveler, a nine-passenger, twin-engine plane built in Italy, Kenai Aviation flies between four and eight flights per day. The most flights are on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The Anchorage-Kenai market is a busy corridor. Grant Aviation operates up to 18 flights per day, operating Cessna 208s. Ravn Alaska operates up to seven flights per day on the 37-passenger Dash 8 twin-engine plane. Ravn is a partner with Alaska Airlines for earning and redeeming miles.


Aleutian Airways started flying between Anchorage and Dutch Harbor in November. Since then, they’ve added flights to Cold Bay, Sand Point and King Salmon. The air carrier competes with Ravn Alaska on all of its routes.

Anchorage-King Salmon also is a busy route because of the fishing industry.

[A visit to Dutch Harbor, built for fishing, is an opportunity to soak up its distinct history]

Additionally, Aleutian competes with Alaska Airlines between Anchorage and King Salmon. Aleutian started with one flight per day between Anchorage and King Salmon, but now has scheduled up to four flights per day starting in July on the 50-passenger Saab 2000.

Alaska Airlines operates up to three flights per day between Anchorage and King Salmon: two 737s and one E-175 operated by Horizon Air.

Ravn Alaska flies twice each day between Anchorage and King Salmon on the Dash 8 through June 27 only.

Aviation in Alaska has many faces: cargo, charter and scheduled passenger flights. For passengers, there are big jets coming in from out-of-state. But often, the last mile is covered aboard one of many smaller air carriers that fly travelers home to places like Shageluk.

(Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Shageluk is along the Yukon River. The village is on the Innoko River.)

Scott McMurren

Scott McMurren is an Anchorage-based marketing consultant, serving clients in the transportation, hospitality, media and specialty destination sectors, among others. Contact him by email at Subscribe to his e-newsletter at For more information, visit