After RavnAir’s exit, North Slope Borough announces partnership with Ryan Air

A Ryan Air passenger aircraft charter. (Photo courtesy RyanAir Alaska via Wikipedia

A rural Alaska air carrier has agreed to step in and fly into North Slope communities that RavnAir said today it will no longer be able to serve. 

Ryan Air has been operating primarily as an air cargo service in rural Alaska — but will now fly mail, freight and “essential passengers,” to the North Slope Borough, it said in a joint statement with the North Slope Borough late Thursday. Essential passengers could include medical or trade professionals who have been cleared of COVID-19, a borough official said.

Read the latest coverage of the COVID-19 crisis in Alaska.

The partnership comes the same day RavnAir Group, the state’s largest rural air carrier, announced that it’s cutting its service by 90 percent.  The company cited a huge loss in passenger bookings due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  

According to the media release, Ryan Air will use RavnAir’s existing infrastructure. While details are still being worked out — Ryan Air could begin operating in the North Slope borough by the weekend. 

There are still communities all over the state, from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta down to the Aleutian Islands that will see far fewer flights from the loss of Ravn Air’s service.

Related: Uncertainty for villages and towns across Alaska as the largest rural carrier, Ravn, grounds almost all of its fleet