SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Airporter Service
By Ken Leland and Bob Kern


January 02, 2007
Tuesday PM

I wish to thank the many people who have commented on the recent loss of Airporter service to Ketchikan International Airport and, on behalf of our drivers and employees, thank them for the many nice comments about the excellent level of service we've taken pride in providing over the past several years.

The Airporter service has been, at best, a marginally-profitable operation to begin with. The past few years have seen expenses spiralling alarmingly upward, and expenses moving dramatically downward. Everyone is familiar with the high gas prices, but we've also been faced with a quadrupling of insurance rates, higher maintenance costs, and other expenses which have had the Airporter operating "in the red" for the past couple of years.

The financial picture, coupled with an adversarial relationship with the Airport Manager's office, and an apparently unconcerned Borough administration, brought us to the conclusion that it is no longer possible for a privately-owned company to operate this service with any expectation of, even, a small profit, or to expect the Borough to follow or enforce its own ordinances.

We warned the Borough more than two years ago that their policies could result in a loss of Airporter service, but nothing was done and our complaints fell on deaf ears.

When the decision to stop service came, we gave the Borough the required 30 days notice that we were discontinuing service as of the end of the year.

Instead of trying to come up with a plan to provide continued service, I was dismayed to read that the Borough staff wants take the break in service to increase the fees in the airporter ordinance and further burdon future airporters and the traveling public!

I read that a Borough official said there were complaints that the Airporter got to ride on the airport ferry for free. The Airport Manager wrote that he doesn't think government should be giving concessions to private operators. Well, we took our airporter responsibilities very seriously, and for the level of service we provided to the airport and the traveling public, I think it was a fair exchange.

We were required by ordinance to meet each and every scheduled flight. Even though hundreds of those flights had no passengers for us, we never missed a single flight in six years of service. If travelers needed us, we were there for them.

I'm sorry that these Borough officials are more interested in stuffing Borough coffers than providing services to the citizens of our community. From their comments, I don't think they know the first thing about the Airporter or what services the Airporter performed for the community.

SitNews writers have commented on our drivers going out of their way to help with luggage or assisting with special needs. Do these Borough officlals know we transported hundreds of babies and children at no charge, transported blood shipments to the hospital, delivered lost or forgotten luggage, gave free rides to money-less travelers, transported handicapped travelers from the hospital or their homes in our wheelchair-lift bus, helped bewildered visitors find a place to stay, gave a bandaid to a little girl with a scraped knee, or hundreds of other unheralded kindnesses we weren't required to do?

Not one single Borough official called to ask why we were closing down the Airporter service or to ask if there was anything we could suggest that could be done to turn it into a viable service again. The only thing they've come up with is a plan to increase airporter fees make it even more impossible for any future Airporter to provide a low-cost transportation service to the airport.

When told of our decision to close down the Airporter service many of our customers were horrified. We feel very badly that the loss of the Airporter service will effect the elderly passengers we transported, the handicapped, the mothers traveling with young children, and others who find it difficult to get to and from the airport with large amounts of baggage. But, it's just not economically feasible to continue operating the Airporter service at a loss and absorbing these losses, as we have for the past few years.

Thank you very much for your past patronage, your understanding and your friendship.

All the best in the New Year!

Ken Leland
Bob Kern
Ketchikan, AK

Received January 01, 2007 - Published January 02, 2006

About: " Very long-time residents and former operators of The Airporter Shuttle"





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Ketchikan, Alaska