Ravn says it’s eyeing flights to Asia and the Lower 48

Rob McKinney, chief executive of Ravn Alaska, speaks in a now-hidden YouTube video in which he announces the company’s aim to launch service to Asia and the Lower 48. (Screenshot)

Ravn Alaska’s chief executive said this week that the airline is looking to expand its service beyond Alaska to the Lower 48 and Asia, using Boeing 757 jets.

The new service, Rob McKinney said in a YouTube video, would rely on some 10 new planes and fly to Tokyo, Seoul, Orlando, Newark, Las Vegas, Oakland and Ontario, a Los Angeles suburb.

The operation would be called Northern Pacific Airways and fly from the underused North Terminal at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, McKinney said.

“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,” he said.

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The unlisted YouTube video was published Monday, then unpublished Tuesday after it was shared on social media by an Alaska aviation reporter, Colleen Mondor.

McKinney, in a brief phone call Tuesday, said the video message was intended for company employees and that Ravn would release more details about its plans soon.

Ravn’s core assets were bought out of bankruptcy last year by a company founded by two California entrepreneurs. It had previously been majority owned by two East Coast private equity firms, and saw its business plummet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

McKinney did not say when Ravn hopes to launch its new service, nor did he say how it would raise the money to buy the Boeing jets, which could cost $10 million apiece, according to industry publications. He did say that Ravn is confident it could launch its operations “without acquiring an excessive amount of debt,” which plagued the company before it went into bankruptcy.

Ravn currently flies Dash-8 propeller planes to roughly a dozen rural Alaska communities, including the Aleutian fishing port of Dutch Harbor, the Kenai Peninsula town of Homer and the Bering Sea island community of St. Paul.

McKinney, in his video, said Ravn’s “commitment to Alaska and our Alaskan communities has never been stronger.”

“We are not going to diminish our commitment to our frequency or the level of service that we’re giving the communities that we have now,” he said.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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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