RavnAir announces flight schedule for Unalaska following deadly crash

A barge moves PenAir’s Saab 2000 airplane that crashed in Unalaska in October. LAURA KRAEGEL/KUCB

After weeks of uncertainty in the wake of last month’s fatal plane crash, RavnAir Group has released flight schedules between Unalaska and Anchorage through May 31, 2020.

In a statement on Monday, Ravn officials said the new schedule includes as many as 17 flights per week, with as many as seven flights per day for the “upcoming peak travel period” during the holidays and busy winter fishing season. 

Related: NTSB: Pilot inexperience and unfavorable winds factored into fatal PenAir crash in Unalaska

The airline also announced that it’s reserving seats for local residents under a new “Home for Holiday” program, as well as offering incentives to help customers earn extra points on Ravn’s FlyAway Rewards program.

Those announcements came after community concerns about how Ravn would handle the winter air traffic while flying smaller, slower planes — and how the suspension of its marketing partnership with Alaska Airlines is preventing Unalaskans from booking tickets with miles. 

Ravn continues to fly the DeHavilland Dash 8 aircraft. In its statement, the airline said it still does not have a timeline for reinstating the Saab 2000 aircraft that crashed.

“RavnAir Alaska will continue to fly DHC-8-100 aircraft to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor during this newly announced flight schedule period that will be a continuation of the airline’s regularly scheduled commercial service, which began Nov. 14,” said the statement. 

Read complete coverage of the PenAir crash in Unalaska

“Flights to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor from Anchorage are expected to perform a technical stop for refueling on the way to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor — unless winds and weather permit direct flights,” the statement continued. “However, RavnAir Alaska expects most return flights to Anchorage to be non-stop.”

“Because of the company’s focus on new Dash 8 service, a comprehensive review of Saab 2000 operations into Dutch Harbor, and the official National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident investigation that is still underway, RavnAir Group does not yet have any additional information on when PenAir will be able to resume Saab 2000 service to this market.”

The NTSB released its initial report on the crash earlier this month, indicating the pilot had limited experience flying the Saab 2000 and landed amid unfavorable, shifting winds. The full investigation, which aims to determine the probable cause of the crash, is expected to take as long as one year. 

Neither Ravn nor Alaska Airlines spokespeople have responded to KUCB’s requests for further information and interviews.