ANCHORAGE - A decision on jet service between Anchorage and Adak is expected by year's end, and Alaska Airlines is leading the competition in endorsements.
The Seattle-based airline has received unanimous support from community, business and Alaska Native leaders to provide service to the Aleutian Island community of about 100 to 200 people, struggling economically after its 1997 Navy base closure.
Peninsula Airways and Evergreen International, LLM Inc. also are vying for the subsidy under U.S. Department of Transportation's Essential Air Service program.
Bids ranged from $400,000 to $2.7 million, depending on frequency of flights, level of service and type of aircraft.
Kevin Adams, a DOT spokesman in Washington, D.C., said selection criteria usually consists of community preference, cost of the subsidy and the track record of a carrier.
Citizens of Adak and Alaska Native groups have fought hard for jet aircraft for the 1,200-mile one-way flight to their community, located in a region notorious for bad weather.
Alaska Airlines bid for a $1.6 million subsidy for two-round trip flights a week using a Boeing 737-200 combination cargo-passenger aircraft, with stops in either Dillingham, King Salmon or Cold Bay.
Anchorage-based PenAir bid for a $400,000 subsidy for four flights a week in peak season, and three flights weekly in nonpeak times using 14-passenger turboprops, reconfigured to allow for about 1,000 pounds of cargo and a lavatory.
PenAir also submitted bids of ranging from $556,000 to $850,000 using 30-seat turboprops.