UPDATE: Atka island residents stranded without plane service for 20 days

June 14: Grant Aviation's first flight to Atka, since May 26, 2017. The flight brought passengers and their baggage, but no mail. (Photo courtesy by Atka Mayor Crystal Dushkin)
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ATKA, Alaska (KTUU) - Update - 4:15 p.m.:
According to Mayor Crystal Dushkin, a Grant Aviation plane landed in Atka, Alaska, this Wednesday afternoon, for the first time since May 26.

She said the plane landed in Atka at 1:23 p.m. local time, or 2:23 p.m. AKDT.

"They brought passengers and baggage, but there was no room for mail," said Dushkin. "I asked if they would make an extra flight to bring mail, but was told they would not make an extra flight. So 20 days and counting still without mail for Atka."

Earlier today, Bruce McGlasson, president of Grant Aviation, told KTUU that the airline recently sent a plane to Atka that strictly delivered mail only.

In response, Dushkin said, "I am sorry to say the President has apparently been misinformed about the mail. There has been no flight made by Grant Aviation to Atka, since May 26, until today, June 14. The flight today did not bring mail."

To emphasize the necessity that Atka residents receive their mail, she added, "There is no pharmacy in Atka, and the only way people receive prescription medication refills is by mail."

Original Story - 11:51 a.m.:
According to Mayor Crystal Dushkin, the city of Atka, Alaska, is going on day 20 without a regular flight in, or out, of the island. Grant Aviation holds the essential air contract for Atka, which is served out of Dutch Harbor/Unalaska.

"The last Atka flight completed by Grant Aviation was on May 26," said Dushkin. "Grant Aviation said they had a 10 day maintenance, but June 5 passed by, then June 7."

As of this morning, on June 14, an Atka flight has yet to be completed.

However, this contradicts what Grant Aviation told both KTUU and Mayor Dushkin, earlier in the week.

On Monday, the airline left a public comment on Dushkin’s Facebook page that read, "An Atka flight was completed yesterday, June 12."

And on Tuesday, Grant Aviation’s Corporate Office again told KTUU that a flight was made to Atka, on June 12.

On Wednesday morning, when KTUU spoke with Mayor Dushkin, she said that Grant Aviation did not compete a flight to their city, as of June 12.

"Atka is a small village of 65 people," said Dushkin. "Everyone knows if a plane came or not. It did not."

KTUU then reached out to Bruce McGlasson, president of Grant Aviation. This time, when KTUU asked McGlasson if an Atka flight was completed on June 12, McGlasson could not answer the question.

"I can’t get into the system," said McGlasson. "I can’t get into the (flight) history."

Mayor Dushkin said she wants Grant Aviation to understand that their flights heavily impact the lives of Atka residents.

"I understand that their plane has issues out of their control," said Dushkin. "But we’re trying to get Grant Aviation to realize we have no other means of transportation in and out of the village."

Dushkin said Atka does not have sea transportation.

"People need to travel for medical conditions," said Dushkin. "And Atka has not had mail for three weeks, now."

The mayor says Atka runs into this same plane service problem a couple times every year, especially in the beginning of summer.

"I think Grant Aviation does a lot of great things," said Dushkin. "We just need for them to take our situation seriously."

Moving forward, McGlasson said Grant Aviation made arrangements, starting this week, for a second plane. In the future, the airline will have two planes that will be able to fly to Atka.

"We’re back in service," he said. "And we’re making arrangements for a second aircraft to avoid situations like this, in the future."

Moreover, McGlasson said an Atka flight is scheduled for departure today, at 12:30 p.m.

We will update this story, when Mayor Dushkin confirms that a flight has been received.



 
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