Ravn is bankrupt and selling off assets, but still wants to give chief executive a bonus

A Ravn Air plane on the tarmac in Anchorage.
A RavnAir Group Dash-8 plane sits on the tarmac at Anchorage’s international airport. (Ravn Alaska)

Alaska’s largest rural airline has declared bankruptcy, laid off more than 1,000 workers and is selling off its assets. But the company still wants to split $250,000 in bonuses between its highly-paid chief executive and other employees.

In a filing Tuesday in Delaware bankruptcy court, RavnAir Group said the bonuses are justified because of the hard work and long hours that Chief Executive Officer Dave Pflieger and the other employees put into selling the company’s assets, after it shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In the filing, Ravn said the final sale of all of the assets is expected to generate more than $55 million, far exceeding what the company anticipated.

Pflieger has already collected $1.4 million in salary, bonuses and expense payments in the past year, according to previous court filings.

Tuesday’s filing did not say how much of the $250,000 will go to Pflieger and how much will go to other employees, and a company spokeswoman, Debbie Reinwand, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The filing said Pflieger was not involved in discussions about his own bonus, though he did participate in conversations about bonuses for other Ravn employees.

Ravn’s filing praised Pflieger and others for maximizing the value of the company’s assets. But it’s still facing questions from both the aviation industry and the state of Alaska about why it’s agreed to sell several of its big planes and two of its operating certificates to a California based company, FLOAT Shuttle, when other companies has offered to pay more money for the same assets.

California entrepreneurs launched a business to fly over L.A. traffic. Now, they will operate Ravn’s routes.

In a separate court filing last week, Juneau-based Alaska Seaplanes, which is working with a Connecticut-based investment firm called Wexford Capital, says it has offered $9 million for the same planes and certificates that FLOAT Shuttle is buying for $8 million. But Alaska Seaplanes President Kent Craford said that Ravn has not expressed interest in the deal.

“We will pay more than FLOAT has paid. If given the opportunity, we will outbid them today,” Craford said in a phone interview. “But we’ve been aced out of that process. Why? We don’t know.”

In its own court filing, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration expressed “limited support” for Alaska Seaplanes’ position and said it was concerned that “all bidders were not given a full opportunity to participate in a transparent auction process.”

Nathaniel Herz is an Anchorage-based journalist. He's been a reporter in Alaska for a decade, and is currently reporting for Alaska Public Media. Find more of his work by subscribing to his newsletter, Northern Journal, at natherz.substack.com. Reach him at natherz@gmail.com.

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