A tragedy for Alaska

Posted: Thursday, February 03, 2000

The Juneau Empire extends its deepest condolences to the friends, coworkers and relatives of those aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 261.

Many Juneau residents, upon hearing the news of Monday's fatal crash, thought, ``That could have been me.'' It's a natural response to a shocking and saddening event, especially so because Alaska Airlines is ``our'' airline. We fly it regularly, some of us flying it weekly for business, others a few times a year for recreation. In addition, many Juneau residents have at one time or another worked for Alaska Airlines, or have relatives who do. The company is one of the major employers of our community and the familiar sight of the Eskimo on the jets' tail is a part of our landscape. Yes, it's a business, but a lot of Alaskans feel so connected to the airline that they treat it like it's a public utility. Thus, all of Juneau feels the tragedy of Flight 261.

We know that the airline employees have a real esprit d' corps feeling about their company, and their enthusiasm and pride in their company shows. They know they're working for one of the top airlines in the world. In addition, Alaska Airlines has an admirable safety record, one of the safest in the skies. We'd take an Alaska Airlines pilot any day over one from any other airline, and have heard many Juneau residents express the same feeling. We have a tremendous amount of faith in the company's dedication to safety and the high caliber of the crews.

And so we extend our heartfelt sympathy to all those who lost loved ones and coworkers on Monday. We know it will take a long time to heal, the process has barely begun and that the news, as it unfolds with developments every day, will not be easy to take. Our prayers will be with them.

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