This screenshot from the Ravn Travel website details how Ravn Alaska’s public charter service works. (Screenshot image by Homer News)

This screenshot from the Ravn Travel website details how Ravn Alaska’s public charter service works. (Screenshot image by Homer News)

Ravn Alaska starts public charter service on Friday

Company is still waiting on final DOT approval

Ravn Alaska, the new iteration of the company that went bankrupt earlier this year due to the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic, is set to take customers in Homer off the ground again starting Friday — and the CEO says the company won’t be letting them down.

Tickets went on sale today, Thursday, for limited flights through Ravn Travel, operated by Corvus Airlines, Inc. Flights begin on Friday.

An important distinction, however, is that Ravn has not started regular air service back up again. The service Ravn is currently offering are public charter flights, CEO Rob McKinney explained.

The company is still waiting on its final approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The DOT had previously issued pending approval, which came with a 14-day pending period that was open to public comment. McKinney said two companies, competitors or potential competitors, commented in objection. That has slowed this final approval process down.

That’s when Ravn decided to take this alternate path to getting some level of service back to some Alaska communities, McKinney said. Ravn Travel will offer public charter service to Homer, Dutch Harbor/ Unalaska, Sand Point, Valdez and Kenai.

There are some limitations to the public charter flights — for example, Ravn is limited to a maximum of four round-trip flights per week. Flights will go directly from Homer to Anchorage and will not stop in Kenai, he said. According to Ravn Travel’s current schedule, flights between Homer and Anchorage will take place on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday of each week.

Another limitation of public charter flights, McKinney said, is that Ravn can’t partner with any major airlines for the purposes of checking bags through.

The charter service being offered by Ravn Travel does not allow for code sharing, rewards programs or other benefits. Those are planned for the eventual full launch of Ravn Alaska.

McKinney said he’s been an eternal optimist about getting regular Ravn Alaska service back to communities, and that he’s hopeful that within the next week or so the final DOT approval will come through. Until then, the public charter flights are a way to begin serving at least some populations. Ravn Alaska also offers private charter flights.

“We are so excited,” McKinney said about being able to fly people again. “This has been a long time coming. The entire staff is just really rearing to go.”

McKinney said he’s deeply appreciative of all the community support Ravn has gotten throughout the process of starting back up.

All guests on Ravn flights will be required to wear face coverings, according to Gary Scott of Thompson & Co. PR, on behalf of Ravn.

For more information about pricing and flights, visit ravnalaska.com and ravntravel.com.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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