Juneau-Whitehorse flight to connect sister cities

The Pilatus PC-12 airplane. (KHNS photo)

Alaska Seaplanes recently announced that they will add a new flight between Juneau and Whitehorse. This is a big deal for travelers in Southeast Alaska because it opens up international travel directly from the capital city, which hasn’t existed for some time.

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Alaska Seaplanes General Manager Carl Ramseth says he hopes his company will begin flying to Canada’s Yukon Territory soon.

“We are very excited about this flight. We look forward to being able to announce the days of the week and the times of day,” Ramseth said.

Ramseth says the company is still waiting for authority from Transport Canada to receive their foreign air operator’s certificate which will allow Alaska Seaplanes to operate scheduled flights into Whitehorse.

Ramseth says the company has been working on the Juneau-Whitehorse route since 2015.

Zoe Morrison is a Whitehorse resident who used to live in Juneau and travels back and forth for recreation.

“People from Juneau love going to Whitehorse. And people from Whitehorse love going to Juneau,” Morrison said.

Morrison usually drives to Skagway and takes the ferry, but she says she is really looking forward to the time-saving flight.

“I’m very excited about it. It’s a two-hour drive from Whitehorse to Skagway and then it is a seven-hour ferry trip and it takes all day, and it is lovely traveling by ferry, but the flight, I understand it is going to be 45 minutes long,” Morrison said. “It’s going to really improve your ability to travel to one of the communities for the weekend.”

Morrison is betting that flying will be around the same price as driving, then taking the ferry.

Passengers will travel the 169 air miles aboard a Pilatus PC-12, which seats nine.

The Swiss-built, single-engine, turbo-prop plane is fully-pressurized and can travel 300 miles per hour and climb 2,000 feet per minute. It can fly at altitudes close to 30,000 feet.

Scott McMurren is an Anchorage Daily News travel columnist. He also publishes the Alaska Travelgram, an email travel newsletter, and the Alaska Tour Saver travel discount book. He says the plane will offer the most luxurious ride in the region.

“It is a nice plane,” McMurren said. “It is just one and one, every seat is an aisle and a window. It is not crowded, but it really is a comfy seat and a comfy ride. It has got the little air things and the little overhead lights just like a regular—it’s basically your own private executive plane.”

Juneau and Whitehorse are sister cities and McMurren says the flight could open up all kinds of new exchanges—economic, educational and cultural.

And the flight also improves air travel times and costs between Anchorage and Whitehorse. Currently, passengers have to fly from Anchorage to Vancouver, BC then on to Whitehorse and vice versa.

McMurren adds that the flight could also provide a new gateway for Alaskans to European travel. Condor Airlines has a weekly flight direct between Whitehorse and Frankfurt, Germany.

Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network.

Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage.

Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email.

Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.

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