Flight delays force two cruise ships to cancel

Posted: Friday, September 14, 2001

A terrorist attack that changed New York's skyscape Tuesday changed Juneau's landscape today.

More than 2,000 cruise ship passengers scheduled to visit today never came because the tragedy forced the Carnival Spirit to cancel its Juneau stop.

A nationwide flight shutdown that prevented passengers from meeting the ship at port in Vancouver also prompted Holland America to cancel a sailing of the Westerdam, which was due here Saturday. The ships combined carry 5,160 passengers and crew.

However, a spokesman for Holland America said the company's remaining nine sailings this season will arrive in Juneau as planned, including the Zaandam, due here Monday. But the ships may have fewer people than usual if passengers still are unable to fly to ports, said Erik Elvejord, spokesman for Holland America.

"We're hearing conflicting stories about how many flights are going to be operational and how many flights can get up and running," Elvejord said. "But in terms of visits to your community, currently everything is on track."

A spokesman for an association representing nine cruise lines operating in Alaska was not aware of any other cancellations. The cruise season ends Sept. 25.

As security alerts continue, some cruise lines have hired divers to inspect the ships' hulls for anything unusual, said Su Lachelt at Channel Dive Center. Divers have been going down with cameras to videotape the hulls, said Lachelt, adding that nothing unusual has been found.

Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration has cleared small air carriers to resume charter and scheduled flights in Alaska, but confusion remains about whether they may cross into Canada.

The FAA initially cleared small aircraft to cross the border, and Charlene Payne of Ward Air thought she had approval to fly into Canada today to pick up a stranded party.

However, the FAA has since learned it needs written permission from Canada for aerial border crossings, said the agency's Joette Storm.

"We're trying to sort that out right now," Storm said this morning. "This is a very fluid situation."

As of this morning LAB Flying Services had resumed only charter service because it was unclear whether the FAA had approved small carriers for scheduled flights, said spokesman Lynn Bennett. Storm, of the FAA, said the agency approved scheduled service Wednesday night and advised operators to contact local flight service stations for updated information.

Bennett said the U.S. Postal Service contracts with LAB to fly mail to small towns from Skagway to Kake, but that mail was slow to arrive in Juneau.

"It seems to be off to a slow start. The freight and mail is not forthcoming from the Lower 48, so there's not much of that to move," Bennett said.

Meanwhile, TEMSCO helicopters on Thursday picked up a maintenance worker stranded on a mountain south of Petersburg. Tommy Lattin of Ketchikan was flown to the mountain Monday morning to install a generator for Alaska Power and Telephone but was stranded after all flights were grounded. Dave Pflaum of AP&T said Lattin was in good health.

"He had food on the site and sleeping bags and a warm place to sleep, but our worry was that it would change," Pflaum said. "We weren't sure whether we would be able to get up there if the weather got really bad. I've seen it stay bad for three weeks before. The weather could have been a problem for us getting him down."

Two maintenance workers with AT&T Alascom on a mountain since Monday were scheduled for pickup tonight after bad weather scrapped a trip Thursday. However, a spokeswoman said she was not worried about the men's protracted stay.

"Normally technicians plan on staying several days up on the mountain at our facilities," said Meg Sudduth of AT&T. "We don't see it as being stranded; they were not in distress."



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