Homer travelers who prefer the air to the road don’t have long to wait — Ravn Alaska, under its new owner, is close to operating out of the Homer Airport once more.
Ravn has been approved for a sole-source lease of the airport terminal with the City of Homer, and a company representative says the final steps are being completed for air service to start back up in a few weeks.
Commuters have been left with fewer options to get to Anchorage since RavnAir Group went bankrupt earlier this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The city has also been losing out on revenue while the airport terminal sat without a leasing tenant.
In September, the Homer City Council passed an ordinance allowing the city manager to negotiate a sole-source lease with the new Ravn Alaska owners, the company Float Shuttle. With that lease now negotiated, all that remains for Ravn is to wait out the pending period of an approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation. City Manager Rob Dumouchel told council members during their meeting on Monday that the city has gotten all its boxes checked when it comes to having Ravn operate in Homer again.
“The state of Alaska, they approved the sublease so we’re good to go there,” Dumouchel said. “Now it’s basically up to Ravn as far as a private business when they want to start selling tickets and flying people places. So we’re very excited about that.”
Some Homer residents noticed Ravn aircraft flying in and out of the airport over the last week. Richard Cole, director of sales and marketing for Ravn, said these were test flights being done for the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as for Ravn’s own auditing.
“Because we are getting started again, we do test flights with the FAA for their approval on routes,” he said.
Cole said that Homer is one of the first communities Ravn will be getting back to serving as it starts back up under its new owner.
“The need is immediate and urgent, and so we plan on being there right away from the start,” he said.
Ravn has all its necessary approvals from the FAA. Cole said he got confirmation on Wednesday morning that the company had gotten pending approval from the Department of Transportation — the last hurdle to starting back up. Cole explained that the approval itself is pending a 14-day period, after which Ravn can begin operation. The hope is to begin operating in November, he said.
Ravn will start out by serving Homer and a few other locations, and then phase in the rest of its destinations, Cole said. He said it’s too early to say how many flights a day Homer commuters can expect, but that the goal is to have a morning and evening flight out of Homer each day.
“The hope is that we are matching the frequency that we did previously,” Cole said.
Homer frequent flyers can also expect to see many of the same faces they did before when flying Ravn. The company tried to accommodate any employees of the previous Ravn company who were interested in coming back, Cole said.
“I think we are committed to being community members and working with the communities, and I think we’re really looking forward to being back part of the Homer environment and doing what is important to the folks there,” Cole said.
Ravn has restarted its charter service, Cole said, and in fact already has some charter flights booked. The next step is a return to regular air service, he said.
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.