Weather sends Anchorage-bound jet to Kenai

Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2005

An Alaska Airlines flight made a landing at Kenai Municipal Airport Monday because of bad weather conditions in Anchorage, said company spokeswoman Amanda Tobin.

Flight 99 from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport landed in Kenai at 12:45 p.m., she said. It was originally scheduled to land in Anchorage at 12:44 p.m.

Prior to landing, the pilot received reports that there was turbulence and sudden increases and decreases in air speed — or wind shear — Tobin said. After flying in a holding pattern for a while, Alaska Airlines decided to divert the flight to Kenai, she said. She said the plane was in a holding pattern long enough "to make fuel an issue."

Tobin said this is a standard place to divert flights — in addition to Fairbanks.

This is the second time in about 20 years that a jet has landed at the Kenai airport, said Mary Bondurant, assistant to the Kenai airport manager. The first time, she said, also was due to poor weather causing two Alaska Airlines jets to land at the airport.

Anchorage airport officials said no other airplanes had to be diverted that day.

After landing, a "minor mechanical issue" was discovered, so passengers were routed on Era Aviation flights to Anchorage, Tobin said.

The issue started during descent into the Kenai airport when the crew saw an indicator light showing that the anti-ice system that prevents ice from forming on the wings needed to be checked by a mechanic, she said. Tobin pointed out that the system was still working.

Because Alaska Airlines does not have mechanical staff in Kenai, it was more efficient to put the passengers on alternate flights than it was to wait for the problem to be fixed, she said.

"It was an unusual situation," Tobin said.

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