The state said Tuesday that four parties have expressed interest in the Malaspina, a mainline ferry that’s been a mainstay of the fleet since the 1960s.
A dispute over whether U.S. border guards would be allowed to carry sidearms on Canadian soil led authorities to pause sailings in 2019. Then the pandemic hit.
State officials say their preference would be for the 59-year-old vessel to remain in Alaska.
The new board tasked with revitalizing Alaska’s state-run ferry system met for the first time on Feb. 11.
A DOT spokesperson said Friday that the Tazlina will be in action in February and March, serving Angoon, Gustavus, Hoonah, Haines and Skagway from its base in Juneau.
The chartered passenger service was designed with apparently little coordination with destination communities.
At a town hall in Haines, Kiehl echoed the community’s frustration with the lack of travel options and called it a predictable crisis given the last three years’ failures in reliable service.
One sailing to Haines was added to accommodate lawmakers traveling to Juneau for the session, but the plan left Skagway high and dry.
The Matanuska was supposed to return to service in late December, but state officials now say they’re not sure when it’ll be ready.
The state of Alaska is looking to the private sector to offer ferry service between Juneau and four Southeast villages facing months-long gaps this winter from January to March.