Cold Bay Gets a New Terminal Building Serving the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands

September 9, 2008

Cold Bay, AK – Sept. 9, 2008 – The National Weather Service (NWS) office in Cold Bay is moving into its new digs this month near the city’s airport runway. The new NWS quarters are in a facility that could soon be transformed into a first-class transportation hub for the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands. The Aleutians East Borough (AEB) began construction of a new 11,400-square foot airport and hovercraft terminal building near Cold Bay’s all-weather runways in June of 2007. Construction of the first floor was complete in February 2008. Second floor tenant improvements were completed last month.

“The goal of the new facility will be to serve the center point of Cold Bay’s regional airport terminal,” said AEB administrator Bob Juettner. “It will also serve hovercraft passengers traveling between King Cove and Cold Bay.”

The terminal building provides space for lease to the National Weather Service and potentially for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The NWS signed its lease with the AEB on Aug. 28, 2008. The Borough is currently negotiating with the FAA to develop a mutually acceptable lease. The AEB is also hoping to lease space to one or more air carriers. Currently, there is no hovercraft terminal on the Cold Bay side, and Pen Air’s waiting room, with its small space and only one toilet, serves only Pen Air passengers.

“By utilizing this terminal and exploiting the city’s centralized location, Cold Bay can become the transportation hub that it was from World War II until the decline of Reeve Aleutian Airways in 2000,” Juettner added.

The first floor has several offices, one of which is dedicated to be the hovercraft office. The Aleutians East Regional Airport and Hovercraft Terminal will include a passenger terminal with freight storage and handling space, loading and parking areas, an access road and support services.  It will be capable of serving airline and hovercraft operations (ticketing, baggage claim, security screening, airline offices, departure lounge, lobby waiting area and cargo and mail operations).

The second floor is being leased to the NWS and possibly the FAA for their Cold Bay operations. The building has cargo areas-including “secure” cargo. The Borough anticipates adding a cooler/freezer to the cargo area. The AEB expects that shortly after the first air carrier lease is signed, they will add casework for airline operations and a conveyer belt for luggage. Vending machines and other amenities for travelers may be added.

“Cold Bay has the fifth longest runway in Alaska,” said Juettner. “With its 10,415 foot paved runway and a 5,125 foot paved crosswind runway, it’s probably the most underutilized capital resource in the state. This airport had everything necessary except a terminal building, to make it a top-notch transportation hub for the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands. So the Borough decided that building a new terminal building would provide a much-needed service to the traveling public. Hopefully, it will also offer some economic development opportunities,” Juettner emphasized.

The secondary purpose of the terminal building is to provide space for large groups of people who must be served in Cold Bay as a result of passenger jet emergency landings. It could also serve residents of the region who would be evacuated through Cold Bay en route to Anchorage or Seattle as a result of a large-scale emergency, such as a volcanic eruption or tsunami. 

With the longest runway in the Aleutians and a crosswind runway, Cold Bay already functions well as an evacuation center during emergencies. Cold Bay is an alternate landing site for the Anchorage airport. Since 2001, two passenger jets have made emergency landings in Cold Bay. Both times, more than 200 passengers were provided accommodations after being spread throughout the community.  With a terminal building, Cold Bay will be capable of handling emergencies and delays in the Aleutians, an area known for severe weather.

“By consolidating emergency services and terminal services, the Borough anticipates the elimination of duplicate services and increased efficiencies within Borough-wide and other municipalities’ emergency and transportation services,” Juettner added. 

Space for vending machines and ground transportation services will also be provided. The design shows potential retail space for a gift shop and a restaurant or snack bar. The building was designed to accommodate a future building expansion when needed.

When the terminal begins operating with passengers, they will have to be bused to and from aircraft because the terminal doesn’t sit on the existing tarmac. The AEB is working with the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) to design and construct an apron at the new building, which may replace existing airline operations.
The Aleutians East Borough is the municipal government encompassing the southwestern portion of the Alaska Peninsula and a number of the easternmost Aleutian Islands. It extends 300 miles along the eastern side of the Alaska Peninsula and includes the communities of Sand Point, Cold Bay, King Cove, False Pass, Akutan and Nelson Lagoon.