Ravn says 30 bidders want to buy at least a piece of the company, but next steps are murky

Ravn Air Group planes seen through an airport fence. (Katie Basile / KYUK)

Ravn Air Group says it’s received nearly 30 bids to buy the airline, or pieces of it, out of bankruptcy, its attorney said at a Thursday court hearing.

Five bidders are interested in buying the company intact, as a “going concern,” Ravn attorney Tobias Keller said at the hearing in Delaware federal bankruptcy court. There were also nearly a dozen offers to buy “substantial assets” from Ravn — not the whole business, but more than $1 million, Keller said.

Other bids were for a single plane or a particular lease, he added.

Ravn was Alaska’s largest rural airline, with 1,300 workers and some 70 planes before the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to shut down operations and file for bankruptcy. The company, majority-owned by a pair of East Coast private equity firms, owed more than $90 million to more than a dozen different lenders.

RELATED: Ravn is $90 million in debt and could be forced to shut down for good, court docs say

Ravn’s chief executive, Dave Pflieger, said in a prepared statement Wednesday that the company is optimistic that the bids will allow it to exit bankruptcy, rehire its 1,300 employees and restart air service. It’s also been approved by the Trump administration for a $32 million payroll support grant.

The bids could potentially avert a liquidation process that’s also been under consideration for Ravn, in which the company would be shut down and its planes sold off one by one.

But at Thursday’s telephonic hearing, attorneys released few details about how the bids will be vetted.

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“I see that there are a number of bidders on the call today who are undoubtedly curious as to what the story is, as to how we’re going to organize the process,” Keller said. “We owe them answers. We owe them deadlines. We don’t have them today.”

Pflieger, in another prepared statement issued after the hearing, said the bidders will participate in an auction after the July 4 weekend. At the auction, Ravn and its lenders will have an opportunity to sell the company, or some of its assets, in a sale that would be approved by a federal bankruptcy judge July 9.

The identities of the bidders were not announced at the hearing, though Keller said among them were “at least five established, strategic buyers or investors that have substantial experience in the airline industry.” One attorney at the hearing said he worked for a Southern California company, Float Shuttle, that has offered to buy Ravn intact.

SEE ALSO: Alaska Native vets from the Vietnam era may lay claim to Alaska land

Float Shuttle, according to its website, runs commuter service for Southern California drivers who want to avoid time in traffic by flying.

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Nat Herz covers government, politics, environment and COVID-19 for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at nherz@alaskapublic.org.

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