Dozens of Alaska villages to lose air service as Ravn announces huge cuts

In Anchorage, passengers board a RavnAir Group flight bound for Unalaska. Ravn and Alaska Airlines suspended their partnership for the Unalaska-Anchorage route following Ravn’s fatal PenAir plane crash on Oct. 17, 2019. (LAURA KRAEGEL/KUCB)

Alaska’s largest rural air carrier, RavnAir Group, says it’s cutting its service by 90 percent amid a coronavirus-driven crash in revenue — a move that could leave dozens of rural villages with deeply diminished air service for passengers and no other reliable link to the road system.

The company, until this week, served 115 communities across nearly the entire state, from the North Slope to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to the Aleutian Islands. In a prepared statement, RavnAir Group said it’s shrinking its fleet of planes from 30 to three.

“RavnAir Group today announced that due to the dramatic and continuing 90% reduction in passenger revenue bookings resulting from the COVID-19 coronavirus, it has been forced to take further actions to drastically cut costs,” the statement said.

In a prepared statement. Gov. Mike Dunleavy said that “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.”

“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,” he said. “The importance of the supply chain to rural Alaska communities is a priority for my administration.”

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