And This Could Be Just The Beginning
Alaska Airlines once again suspended flights in and out of
Anchorage, AK Monday morning, following a volcanic eruption at
Mount Redoubt that generated a continuous ash cloud. This latest
service cancellation comes less than 24 hours after the airline --
and other carriers serving Ted Stevens International Airport (ANC)
-- resumed service to the airport.
"We apologize for the inconvenience to our customers, but their
safety is always our highest priority," said Ben Minicucci, Alaska
Airlines' chief operating officer and executive vice president of
operations. "We're continuing to closely monitor the weather and
ash from Mount Redoubt and will resume flights when it is safe to
do so. We're also making every effort to re-accommodate passengers
whose travel plans have been disrupted."
It seems a near-certainty the next several weeks will prove
trying for Alaskan passengers, and the airlines trying hard to
serve them. KTVA-11 reports air travelers in the region may expect
similar delays in the foreseeable future, as the volcano settles
into a pattern of small but regular eruptions before finally
cooling, and eventually becoming dormant once again.
Trouble is... that could be a long time from now, according to
geologists. The last series of eruptions from Mount Redoubt started
in late 1989, and lasted four months. So far, activity from the
mountain has followed a similar pattern this time around.
While most realize that circumstances are out of anyone's
control, passengers are still growing weary of constant
stops-and-starts. "We spent the last five days trying to get out of
Dutch Harbor due to backed up flights from the volcano," said
Suzanne Schuette. "It's like ground hog day. You get up every day,
every morning, go to the airport, check in, make sure that your
flight might come and just wait."
The volcano lies about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, though
so far winds have spared the city from the brunt of any ash fall.
What has caused concern, however, is the detrimental effects of the
highly-abrasive ash on air travel in the region.
Ash spewed upward by the initial December 1989 eruption led to a
four-engine flameout aboard a KLM Boeing 747 overflying the area.
The flight crew was able to restart the engines and make an
emergency landing in Anchorage, though the plane needed $80 million
in engine repairs afterward.