Air carrier ends Kenai service

Posted: Sunday, November 12, 2000

KENAI (AP) -- Another air carrier is giving up on the Kenai-to-Anchorage run. Anchorage-based TransNorthern Aviation suspended operations Wednesday.

TransNorthern co-owner Alan Larson told the Peninsula Clarion that the 6 percent market share his company wrested away from Era Aviation was not enough to remain profitable.

''When we got in, we decided it would take 10 percent to break even, and our low fares didn't attract the percent of the market we needed,'' he said. ''We tried to market our tickets at a competitive rate, but fuel costs doubled and insurance went up 30 to 40 percent.''

Larson said bulk fuel prices went from 95 cents a gallon to $1.75 a gallon in the 10 months TransNorthern served Kenai.

''We spent $90,000 on avgas and jet fuel in Kenai during the last nine months,'' he said. ''It used to be fuel was one of the least expensive things for a small carrier to worry about. Now it's getting to be a significant cost of the trip.''

TransNorthern began service with a single-engine Cessna Caravan before switching to a larger twin-engine Beech 99. He said the company lost money if it did not have at least five passengers on each leg of the trip between Kenai and Anchorage.

''We needed two passengers to pay for the fuel, another to pay for the pilot, another for insurance and another for landing fees and taxes,'' Larson said.

TransNorthern had seven employees at its Kenai terminal. Some were former employees of Yute Air, a carrier that departed from the Kenai market shortly before Christmas a year ago.

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