RavnAir Group Cuts Service To Unalaska

Apr 2, 2020

RavnAir is grounding 90 percent of its flights, and reducing its fleet from 30 planes to three.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Updated 4/02/20 at 1:00 p.m.

According to city officials, RavnAir Group called shortly after 12 p.m. on Thursday and said it will be cutting service to Unalaska.

"The city was notified midday today that Ravn is discontinuing flights between Unalaska/Dutch Harbor and Anchorage," said a press release from the City of Unalaska. "The effective date is uncertain, but it may be as early as tomorrow, April 3, 2020." 

There has been a steep reduction in flights around Alaska due to the coronavirus pandemic. And Ravn, the state's largest regional airline, has adjusted its operations due to those losses.

"Effective today, Ravn will be further reducing its flying operations by 90 percent and shrinking its operating fleet from thirty (30) aircraft to three (3) Dash 8s to minimize expenses, maintain service to our Essential Air Service communities, and continue flights to the other markets it currently serves with these aircraft," said Ravn spokesperson Debbie Reinwand.

The last day of service to Unalaska is still unknown, according to City Manager Erin Reinders, who spoke with Ravn officials Thursday afternoon.  

"This is a continually evolving situation, it's quickly evolving," said Reinders. "I wasn't able to get a firm date. They just weren't sure. They did say flights were happening today, and there were plans for flights tomorrow."

Reinders said that she reached out to both the state and federal Department of Transportation (DOT), but neither had any more information.

"As far as I know, they know as much as I know," said Reinders. "But both state and federal DOT are certainly aware of our situation, and the fact that we're an island and depend on that air travel. We've got no other direct air service coming in and out of Anchorage."

As of 11:30 a.m. Thursday morning, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that they had "not yet been notified officially."

Reinders said that given Gov. Mike Dunleavy's recent mandates restricting travel, the change in service shouldn’t have an immediate effect on most Unalaskans. 

"My concern is looking longer-term [at] what the plan is as we move forward," said Reinders. "What's that longer-term plan looking like, as well as shorter-term? The fact is, there is some essential travel for community members, so what are some options there? And I don't have solid answers on that right now."

In addition to cutting flight service to Unalaska, Ravn announced it is also cutting service to many other rural Alaskan communities. But according to Reinwand, Kenai, Homer, Valdez, King Salmon, Dillingham, St. Paul, Bethel, Aniak, St. Mary's, McGrath, and Unalakleet will continue to receive service. 

All RavnAir Connect operations will stop, but certain RavnAir Alaska Dash 8 flights will continue to operate.

According to Gov. Mike Dunleavy's recent health mandates, most Unalaskans shouldn't be travelling. Still, the state said it is responding to the unfolding transportation crisis. 

"We want rural Alaskans to know the aviation industry is working cooperatively to ensure essential passenger service, bypass mail and freight service is maintained to their communities during these uncertain times," said Gov. Mike Dunleavy in a released statement on Thursday. "This morning I also spoke with officials from the United States Postal Service and they assured me they are working with contract carriers to maintain scheduled service to rural areas. The importance of the supply chain to rural Alaska communities is a priority for my administration."

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

 -- -- -- Original Story 

RavnAir Group announced Thursday morning that it is cutting almost all service to rural communities. 

"Effective today, Ravn will be further reducing its flying operations by 90 percent and shrinking its operating fleet from thirty (30) aircraft to three (3) Dash 8s to minimize expenses, maintain service to our Essential Air Service communities, and continue flights to the other markets it currently serves with these aircraft," said Ravn spokesperson Debbie Reinwand.

Essential Air Service communities will still have service. Unalaska, which is not an essential air service community, is still receiving service. Kenai, Homer, Valdez, King Salmon, Dillingham, St. Paul, Bethel, Aniak, St. Mary’s, McGrath, and Unalakleet will also all continue to receive service. 

According to Reinwand, all RavnAir Connect operations will stop. But RavnAir Alaska Dash 8 flights will continue to operate.

As of 11:30 a.m. Thursday, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that they have "not yet been notified officially."

"We want rural Alaskans to know the aviation industry is working cooperatively to ensure essential passenger service, bypass mail and freight service is maintained to their communities during these uncertain times," said Governor Mike Dunleavy in a released statement. "This morning I also spoke with officials from the United States Postal Service and they assured me they are working with contract carriers to maintain scheduled service to rural areas. The importance of the supply chain to rural Alaska communities is a priority for my administration."