Ravn 'Hopes' To Relaunch Service To Rural Hubs In Mid-September
The company that bought Ravn's core assets initially hoped to relaunch operations around this time, but the new owners now say that they hope to resume flying in another month, in mid-September.
Rob McKinney is the new chief executive of the rebranded company, Ravn Alaska, and he says some unforeseen challenges delayed the relaunch of service to the Aleutian Islands, Bristol Bay, and Kenai Peninsula.
"The sale getting pushed to last Friday is kind of what caused the delays, because the [Federal Aviation Administration] isn't able to start on a project until the ownership has actually changed," McKinney said. "They've been wonderful to work with, but unfortunately, their hands were tied until the point where we owned the company."
McKinney used to run a Southern California flight service called FLOAT Shuttle. FLOAT acquired six of Ravn's Dash 8 planes and two of its federal Part 121 airline certificates after the company declared bankruptcy, laid off more than a thousand workers, and sold off its assets in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to McKinney, the airline intends to eventually provide non-stop service to places like Unalaska/Dutch Harbor — where the community has gone without direct commercial flights to Anchorage since a fatal crash last October. But for now, it intends to continue using its fleet of DeHavilland Dash 8 aircraft, which require a refueling stop.
"Our main focus right now is just to get the current fleet back in the air," said McKinney. "But concurrently, we are working with our Dash 8 partner to find the right platform."
Now that the sale is wrapped up, McKinney said the airline is in the process of rehiring flight crews and coordinating trainings in advance of getting planes back into the air, pending approvals from the FAA and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
"We're just excited that we're finally official," he said. "Now, we can roll up our sleeves and really dig into every part of the process and get this great airline back in the air."
McKinney said Ravn Alaska's goal is to have a workforce of around 400 people by September. As of Thursday afternoon, he said they've hired 41 people — all of them previous employees of RavnAir Group.