Alaska-based Ravn Air Group will park nearly all its fleet and operate only three De Havilland Canada Dash 8 aircraft in response to the lack of air travel demand, leaving rural and isolated communities in the state few options for air freight deliveries and passenger flights.
The suspension was effective 2 April for its regional subsidiaries Ravn Air Connect, Penn Air, and Ravn Air Alaska, but the parent company states it “will maintain essential air service”. All passenger flights on Ravn Air Connect, however are suspended “for the foreseeable future”.
The combined fleets of Ravn Air Group have 73 aircraft, Cirium fleets data shows. The bulk of these are in Ravn Air Connect’s fleet, which includes eight Piper PA-31 Navajos, nine Textron Beech 1900s, 22 Textron Cessna 208B Caravans, and 18 Textron Cessna 207s. Ravn Alaska relies mainly on its 11 Dash 8 turboprop aircraft.
Prior to 2 April, 115 communities in Alaska relied on Ravn Air Group for cargo and passenger flights. Now the only communities that will receive service are King Salmon; Homer; Valdez; Kenai; Dillingham; St. Paul; Bethel; Aniak; St. Mary’s; Unalakleet and McGrath. A recorded phone message from the company states it had previously reduced capacity in response to declining air travel demand, but its press office is also closed “until further notice”, so its staff were unavailable to provide details.
This halt to air cargo deliveries in Alaska may add strain to ground delivery services that are facing a nationwide spike in demand as people stock up on necessities and remain at home. This suspension with no advance notice also left the US Postal Service rushing to ensure that 187 different zip codes in Alaska would still receive mail.
“It was quite sudden, and we had to find alternate contractors,” a USPS spokesman tells Cirium. “By this morning we have covered all those routes by alternate means, so there should be no interruptions.”
Alaska governor Mike Dunleavy banned all nonessential travel in the state effective 28 March to halt the spread of pandemic, announcing that restriction will be reevaluated by 11 April.