State explores expanding airport hours in Bethel

Posted: Monday, December 13, 2010

BETHEL - The state Department of Transportation is exploring the option of expanding the operational hours at the Bethel airport to all-hours.

The Tundra Drums reports that residents of the southwest Alaska community of nearly 6,000 rely heavily on air travel, especially in the winter when it's the most reliable form of transportation.

The Bethel airport is one of the busiest in the state, third behind Anchorage and Fairbanks with 300,000 passengers yearly. It's the second busiest in cargo flights as well. The Bethel hospital flies seriously injured patients to larger hospitals in Anchorage.

The state estimates that expanding the airport's hours would cost about $900,000. The expanded hours would require more manpower to keep runways clear of ice and snow through the night.

Department's spokesman Roger Wetherell says that airlines are supportive of the idea.

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