The mail is again flowing to the island community of Adak after an apparent dispute between Alaska Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration caused the airline to suspend carrying larger parcels on its passenger flights.
In most cases parcels have been rerouted on other airlines. But Adak’s only scheduled connection is a twice-weekly Alaska Airlines flights that is subsidized by the federal government.
People in Adak were informed April 1st that priority parcels greater than 16 ounces could no longer be delivered; this was a concern as prescription medication is often shipped priority and alternatives are more expensive.
U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich intervened last week. At the request of the airline, Begich penned a letter to TSA administrator John Pistole asking for a waiver for Adak, noting "the difficulty in applying a one-size-fits-alls approach to security."
Alaska Airlines has confirmed the disruption but has declined further comment.
Murkowski said that since August, Alaska Airlines has been out of compliance with a new TSA requirement requiring 100 percent of cargo to be screened that is carried on passenger flights.
— TSA 1 :25 "Alaska Airlines has been out of … this lack of compliance."
But Murkowski added she made the case for an exception to be made for Adak.
— TSA 2 :28 "When you think of a … carriers that fly out there."
Both senators say they have been given assurances that a temporary waiver for Adak has been issued. Steve Deaton, a U.S. Postal Service network operations specialist in Anchorage, says deliveries to Adak are now flowing normally.
Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey says the carrier is working on a resolution return priority mail on all of its passenger flights in Alaska.
TSA spokesman Nico Melendez released a statement saying that for "security reasons" the agency would not comment on screening requirements but pledged to "ensure high levels of security while maintaining the flow of commerce."