Western Alaska airline hopes to stage comeback after years of turbulence

It’s been a rough ride in recent years for a rural airline that once dominated the Western Alaska market.

Grant Aviation, company executives say, was unprepared for new routes it picked up three years ago in the Aleutian Islands and Bristol Bay area. At the time, it was just emerging from a bitter court fight over management and ownership. It canceled many flights. Employee paychecks bounced. Its Anchorage landlord started eviction proceedings on its Lake Hood hangar and office space — three years in a row.

Many passengers gave up on the airline they once relied on to get to the doctor, stock up on groceries and travel to high school basketball games.

Now Grant says it’s retooling itself. It is adding planes, including an Australian-built Airvan. In April it opened a Bethel customer service center with agents who speak Yup’ik.

And the air carrier installed a new management team. Executives and owners are traveling throughout rural Alaska holding town hall meetings with free food and door prizes including plane tickets to promote what they hope is a new day for Grant.

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