Ravn Alaska lays off nearly a third of its staff

The largest passenger-based airline in Alaska is laying off nearly one-third of its workforce, a spokesperson for the company said Monday.

Ravn Alaska laid off 130 employees from various departments across the board, effective Friday, the spokesperson said. Pilots are also affected by the decision, according to a union group.

Ravn Alaska officials, including chief executive Rob McKinney, did not return requests for comment early Monday. The layoffs were previously reported by Alaska’s News Source.

The decision will not affect route schedules that existed as of Friday, but flights will be reduced, the spokesperson said. The company employed more than 400 people before the layoffs, the spokesperson said.

Ravn Alaska flies from Anchorage to communities around the state, including Homer, Valdez, Unalaska and Cold Bay. It is the largest airline serving rural Alaska.

McKinney sent an email to employees Friday discussing the changes as a “restructure” and saying the airline is not “throwing in the towel.”

The email cited a lack of profits, coupled with costly surprises such as inflation, the labor shortage and competition. Inefficient legacy operations were also a factor, the email said.


Pilots with Ravn joined the Air Line Pilots Association, International in 2022, according to the union’s website. The union’s Ravn pilot group said in an email Monday that it is assisting pilots affected by the decision.

“ALPA continues to work with airline management on ways to mitigate the effects that these layoffs have on pilots and our airline,” the ALPA’s Ravn pilot group said. “Through our extensive resources, ALPA is assisting pilots affected by these potential furloughs.”

The airline has had a rocky history.

Ravn Alaska’s predecessor, RavnAir Group, filed for bankruptcy in June 2020, amid high debts and a sharp drop in passenger traffic during the pandemic.

Ravn Alaska launched in late 2020, after new ownership including McKinney acquired part of RavnAir Group’s assets in a $9.5 million bankruptcy sale.

A new company affiliated with Ravn Alaska, meanwhile, has launched an ambitious bid to create an international airline.

New Pacific Airlines, formerly called Northern Pacific Airways, is listed as the parent company of Ravn in Alaska business records. It shares the same address at 4700 Old International Airport Road, according to their websites.

New Pacific has plans to provide passenger flights to Asia and the Lower 48 with Anchorage stops, using Boeing 757 jets. The company had planned to begin flying to destinations such as Tokyo and Seoul in 2022. So far, New Pacific offers destinations between Ontario, California, and Reno, Nevada, and Nashville, Tennessee, according to its website.

The company has not filed a mass-layoff notice with the state, said Nakita Mongar, a program coordinator with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

So-called WARN notices are often required by federal law for mass layoffs. Such a notice may not be required in this case, given that the number of layoffs appears to not meet 33% of the airline’s active workforce, according to details on the state’s WARN website.

McKinney said in his email to employees that Ravn Alaska will be stronger in the future, after the restructuring.

“By now you have all heard that we are needing to restructure again,” the email said. “Despite our best efforts with schedules, pricing, and previous attempts at right sizing, we still were not hitting the mark of profitability. Since the restart we have been faced with numerous unforeseen challenges. Rampant inflation, labor shortages, and unexpected competition on routes that been only served by Ravn in the past.”

“This is not giving up or throwing in the towel. This is like what so many other airlines have gone through to become a viable service that can then begin to grow anew. The hard truth is that we never really left oldco in the past,” the email said, referring to RavnAir Group as “oldco” for “old company,” the spokesperson said.

“Due to the need to restart as quickly as we did, we ended up adopting many practices and policies that are inefficient at best. I know that times like these are stressful. We will emerge a stronger company as a result,” the email said.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or alex@adn.com.