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An Era Aviation Dash 8 100 on final. (Photo: Frank Kovalchek from Anchorage, Alaska, USA (ERA Aviation prop plane landing at ANC) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Ravn Alaska Returns to the Sky After Shutdown

One of the earliest, and perhaps most vital airline victims of the Covid-19 pandemic has returned to the skies. Ravn Alaska returned to the skies over the northernmost state this past Friday. The airline restarted operations with a charter flight from Anchorage to Dutch Harbor, with a deHaviland Dash 8. The airline is still waiting for regulatory approval for scheduled operations but will ramp up charter flights in preparation for a return to scheduled flights.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ravn was one of the largest regional airlines in Alaska, specializing in serving rural, remote communities. At its peak, the airline employed 1,300 employees and served 100 destinations. However, like for many airlines, the Covid-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented drop in bookings and revenue. This lead to the airline declaring bankruptcy and ending operations on April 5, 2020. 

The shutdown left many remote communities cutoff and at one point local government in Northern Alaska offered to take possession of the airline to keep flights going. However, the state government deemed this improper and the airline entered bankruptcy protection. In order to fill the void created, other local carriers began offering charter flights to these remote communities. In July the airline’s assets went to bankruptcy court, and its part 121 certificate and assets were sold to FLOAT Shuttle of California.

FLOAT Shuttle, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, planned to offer flights around the Los Angeles area as an alternative to sitting in traffic. With the certificate and assets purchased in bankruptcy court, it was announced that the airline would restart operations late in 2020. As part of the restart, the airline rehired approximately 300 employees, many of whom worked for the previous Ravn Alaska iteration. The restart is being operated by the DeHavilland Dash 8’s that were purchased from the bankruptcy court. 

The airline is currently only able to offer charter flights four times per week from a base in Anchorage. In addition to Dutch Harbor, the airline plans to serve Homer, Valdez, Sand Point, and Kenai initially. Service will be increased once the airline receives approval for scheduled operations. The airline also has plans to offer code-sharing and rewards programs in the future, pending the approval of scheduled service authority. 

The return to the skies of Ravn Alaska will be warmly welcomed to their communities in Alaska. The remoteness of the state means that for many communities air service is the only way to move people or supplies into town. The reintroduction of Ravn Alaska will give these communities a much-needed boost as well as help to ensure their survival moving future. In return, these communities will support Ravn and help to ensure that the airline, and the vital air service it represents, continues to thrive and grow. 

Daniel Morley
Daniel Morley
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