Ketchikan Gateway Borough

Ketchikan International Airport History

Ketchikan International Airport

The Ketchikan International Airport was jointly constructed by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, the State of Alaska, Department of Public Works and the Federal Aviation Administration to serve the residents of Ketchikan and Southeast Alaska, the Airport was dedicated on August 4 - 5, 1973.



STATE: 4.4 million dollars
FEDERAL: 7.4 million dollars
BOROUGH: 3.0 million dollars


Airplanes must have airports - just as ships require docks and trains need railroad stations. An airport provides a place for planes to take off and land. It also includes areas in which aircraft are loaded, unloaded, fueled, repaired and stored. Airports vary in size. The large ones used by airlines utilizing jet transports are called "air carrier" airports. The smaller activities that serve mostly private planes are known as general aviation airports. Airports are classed according to the size of the aircraft that use the airport, and the frequency of those flights per day. Classification is by letter designation, A, B, C, or D. Index "A" is the smallest, and index "D" being the largest. Ketchikan is classed as an index "B" airport.

Ketchikan International Airport has four main types of facilities. One is for transporting passengers and freight to and from the airport (Ferry System), one is for passengers arriving and departing (Airport Terminal), one is for planes on the ground, (Aircraft Ramp and Parking Areas), and one is for aircraft that are taking off or landing (Runway).

The history of Ketchikan International Airport starts before W.W.II. Air travel to Ketchikan was via Grumman Goose from the old military airfield on Annette Island. Many Ketchikan residents wanted an airport closer to Ketchikan and in 1965 the Alaska State Division of Aviation contracted for a site study of the areas around Ketchikan. In 1967 another more detailed study was done and Gravina Island was chosen as the best site. Clearing the land began in 1969. The runway, taxiway and aircraft parking areas were funded by State and Federal money, and Ketchikan Gateway Borough voters approved a bond for the Terminal building, utilities and related facilities. The official opening dedication for Ketchikan International Airport was August 4 & 5, 1973.