In a state that depends on air transport to an extraordinary degree, Alaska Airlines is viewed as an economic lifeline. The town of Bethel, about 340 miles west of Anchorage, is a case in point: Though it has only 10 miles of paved roads and fewer than 6,000 residents, Bethel is the third-busiest airport in the state and the "big city" for some 50 Native Alaskan villages in the surrounding area. Alaska Airlines operates three daily round-trips from the airport's lone paved runway, but transportation isn't the only thing it provides. The carrier also supports Yuut Yaqungviat Flight School, which trains Native Alaskans for local aviation-related jobs, helping to slow outmigration from the remote region.
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