KENAI - The state Transportation Department is planning a new airport for the city of Akutan by the fall of 2012.
Radio station KSRM reported PenAir has been warning for years that it would have to stop serving the island in the Aleutian chain because of the age of its World War II-era plane, called the Grumman Goose. Local, state and federal officials have planned a $75 million airport project for the community of less than 1,000 people, which is also home to a large Trident Fish Processing facility.
Akutan Mayor Joe Bereskin said single-engine float planes cannot land in the bay due to the dangerous weather conditions around Akutan Island. So, the Department of Transportation proposed the airport for nearby Akun Island with a hovercraft to take passengers to Akutan.
DOT manager Judy Chapman and Akutan Airport project manager Tom Schmid say the airport will cost $64 million with $59 million in federal money and $5 million from the state.
The hovercraft will cost $11 million, with state and federal funding and $1 million from Seattle-based Trident Seafoods.
The Transportation Department expects to award the contract for the project this summer.