Contract delay halts island helicopter service

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by Your Alaska Link News Team

A contract delay has halted transportation to and from Little Diomede Island, one of Alaska's most remote communities.

Reports say the weekly helicopter flights were suspended because a system of federal and state subsidies expired June 30 before the yearly contract was signed.

The service is contracted with Erickson Helicopters Inc. and subsidized annually at more than $337,000. Erickson pilot Mike Kutyba says passengers pay $400 for one-way flights to or from Nome and $200 for flights to or from the village of Wales.

The state portion of the funding is distributed by Kawerak Inc., a regional nonprofit corporation established by the Bering Straits Native Association.

Kawerak official Pearl Mikulski says she expects the contract to be settled soon.

Little Diomede is 2 1/2 miles from Big Diomede Island, Russia.