North Slope Borough ‘commandeers’ Ravn’s North Slope assets

(Photo courtesy of Ravn Alaska)

The North Slope Borough says it is taking possession of all of RavnAir Group’s planes and other property within the borough’s boundaries in order to guarantee continued air service to the region.

Until last week, Ravn was the sole passenger air carrier to several North Slope villages. On Sunday, the company announced that it was shutting down all operations and filing for bankruptcy. 

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In an emergency order signed Sunday by Mayor Harry Brower, the borough says that under its authority during a disaster declaration, it is “commandeering” all of Ravn’s “hangars, equipment, operations manuals, parts, supplies, vehicles, (and) airplanes.”

The order also says that the North Slope Borough can take possession of “intangible assets,” such as security codes and leases. 

“The borough must, in this time of disaster, ensure that its residents have food, medical supplies, and medical transport,” the order says.

Ravn’s ground crew, hangars and equipment were still being used through Sunday in Utqiagvik, the North Slope’s hub community, according to Matt Atkinson, a part-owner of Wright Air.

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Wright Air has taken over Ravn’s routes on the North Slope, and on Sunday afternoon, Atkinson said Wright had hired five of Ravn’s ground crew to keep the flights going, but hadn’t yet secured access to facilities.

Borough officials couldn’t immediately be reached to explain the practical effect of the order; a North Borough spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. RavnAir Group did not immediately respond to phone calls or emails. 

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The North Slope Borough had an estimated 9,800 residents in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with about half living in Utqiagvik. The rest live in the North Slope Borough’s seven other communities of Anaktuvuk Pass, Atqasuk, Kaktovik, Nuiqsut, Point Hope, Point Lay, and Wainwright.

Alaska Public Media’s Nat Herz contributed to reporting