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Carrier acquired.

Wilbur's Inc. has introduced new air cargo service and is carrying close to a million pounds of mail, fish and freight per month to the Bush, says president Gerald Ball. The airline, started in 1952 by Joe and Anne Wilbur, in March was bought by a Ball holding company, Pacific Northern Airways, owned by Gerald and brothers Newton and Albert Jr.

The Ball brothers are no strangers to Alaska aviation; all three flew planes for father Albert Sr.'s Western Alaska Airline. From 1977 to 1983, they operated Ball Brothers Inc. Presently Albert Jr. works for another Pacific Northern subsidiary, Universal Airlines of Detroit, and Newton is a pilot for Continental Airlines.

Anchorage-based Wilbur's began offering once-daily service between Anchorage, Bethel and St. Marys in early May. Flights between Anchorage and Nome and between Anchorage and Kotzebue were added in June. Routes to Dillingham and King Salmon were started in mid-July.

Wilbur's also offers passenger service to McGrath, Cordova, Holy Cross and Anvik. Service to Valdez is available from April to September. A short-lived passenger service to Soldotna had to be canceled due to lack of passengers.

"We gave it a try, but Kenai's a bust this year," says Gerald Ball. "They had the catch-and-release fishing rules, and tourism is down."

Ball says he plans to pursue the freight market aggressively and to make Wilbur's a major in-state Alaska airline. "We were born in Anchorage and raised in Dillingham, so we know what they need in the Bush. We're Alaskans."
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Title Annotation:Pacific Northern Airways buys Wilbur's Inc.
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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