Ravn considering expansion to Lower 48, Asia markets

Ravn Alaska, the state’s biggest rural airline, is considering a proposition to expand services into Asia and the Lower 48.

The airline envisions a plan to use the North Terminal at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and begin a new operation that could fly to Tokyo and Seoul, as well as domestic destinations such as Orlando; Las Vegas; Newark, New Jersey; and Oakland and Ontario in California.

“It’s not very far along at all,” Ravn Alaska CEO Rob McKinney said in an interview June 30.

The initial plans were first laid out in a June 28 video shared on YouTube. In it, McKinney said Ravn may acquire around 10 Boeing 757 jets for the new operation, called Northern Pacific Airways. An aviation reporter in Alaska shared the announcement on Twitter. The video has since been set to private.

It was intended to be seen only by Ravn employees, McKinney said in the interview. He usually sends an email out every Friday to update staff but said the YouTube video was the first of its kind.

“This is just an internal plan that might be similar to the video, it might be completely different than the video, or it might not happen at all,” McKinney said.

He said they don’t have “full permission” to use the name Northern Pacific Airways.

“It’s just a potential name,” he said.

It will require numerous federal approvals to get the project off the ground.

Ravn, formerly RavnAir Group Inc., filed for bankruptcy 14 months ago and has since been restructured as Ravn Alaska under new management and ownership.

Before bankruptcy, Ravn served more than 100 communities across the state; now they fly to 13.

“I want to reassure you that we are really digging into these numbers and are very certain of the value of what we’re going to be able to bring to the public,” McKinney said in the video.

He said he was certain the company would be able to get the project off the ground “without acquiring an excessive amount of debt” that Ravn once carried.

Ravn is debt-free, McKinney told the Daily News, and the company is working with current investors to source aircraft for the project. Ravn has yet to select the aircraft it may purchase, according to McKinney.

Four people have been hired for the new project so far, with more arriving in the coming weeks, he said.

As of June 30, Ravn had 388 employees. Before the bankruptcy, there were more than 1,300.

In the video, McKinney reassured employees that their jobs are safe.

Updated: 
07/07/2021 - 9:49am