RavnAir shut down operations and filed for bankruptcy in April after a steep drop in travel due to COVID-19, leaving a transportation hole in many regions of the state. Alaska Airlines is stepping into some communities to fill that void.
The airline plans to provide year-round support to Dillingham and King Salmon. Alaska Air spokesperson Tim Thompson said the airline does not have a definite schedule yet but plans to gauge demand once they are able to take off.
“Those schedules could change, just like we do throughout other places in the state of Alaska where we might have a daily service during the summertime, because there’s so much demand,” Thompson said. “We may do every other day, or two-day service in the wintertime, but the goal is to be able to provide year-round service to the region.”
The Kenai Municipal Airport would love to land a new air carrier, as well. During the May 6 Kenai City Council meeting, city attorney Scott Bloom said he’s been in contact with Ravn’s attorneys and was told Ravn had to file a plan to liquidate assets based on a demand from its creditors but it doesn’t actually want to do so.
The city sent Ravn an operating agreement that would extend its terminal lease agreement beyond July 1, though the future of Ravn in Kenai is up in the air.
“They still hope to reemerge in one way, shape or form or another,” Bloom said. “… Though I’m not sure that we would actually, I think there would be some discussion as to whether we want to continue to do business with them.”
Bloom said the city has reached out to Alaska Airlines. It might be difficult to land such a large carrier in Kenai, since the Kenai Airport isn’t currently permitted to handle a large volume of passengers.
“We currently don’t have TSA (screening) in place,” he said. “So for, if it’s a plane, if it’s over 65 passengers or something, you have to have TSA in place.”
Bloom said the city is reaching out to several operators.
Tyler Thompson, with KDLG in Dillingham, contributed to this story.