Ravn Alaska (7H, Anchorage Ted Stevens) is opposing plans by resurgent carrier Via Airlines, Inc. to resume commuter air services between Dutch Harbor/Unalaska and Anchorage, arguing the carrier has neglected to furnish full fleet details, expense data, and operational plans, according to a regulatory notice to the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

Ravn Alaska has asked the DOT to dismiss “as materially insufficient” Via’s notice and exemption application for the resumption of services; or alternatively, that response deadlines be tolled until Via files a “complete and compliant” notice.

Via, in October last year, filed an application with the DOT to resume commuter air services using a single E145. This comes after Via Airlines (VC, Orlando Int'l) went bust in 2019, where-after it was bought by Wexford Capital, through the Connecticut investment firm's subsidiary Via Acquisitions LLC, amid plans to relaunch as Sterling Airways (Jacksonville Craig, FL).

In July last year, Kalinin Holdings, Inc. t/a Alaska Seaplanes (J5, Juneau Int'l), a commuter airline in Southeast Alaska, said it would partner Via for the relaunch of passenger air services formerly served by RavnAir Group subsidiaries PenAir (NLA, Anchorage Ted Stevens) and Corvus Airlines (today known as Ravn Alaska).

Ravn Alaska has since officially notified the DOT of its opposition to Via's proposed relaunch of services, as well as to Via’s application for an exemption from a 45-day advance notice requirement for authority to resume the services; and its application for a waiver of the 45-day prefilling requirement for the submitted application. Ravn requests that Via’s application be dismissed as “flawed and insufficient”, or if not dismissed, that reply deadlines be tolled until such time as a compliant notice and exemption application, consistent with all the requirements, is filed.

Ravn argues that Via’s notice and exemption application is defective because it fails to provide full details of the aircraft it intends to operate. In its application, Via stated it planned to operate initially with one and subsequently with two E145s. However, according to social media posts, it appears the airline is also planning on using Saab 2000s, which was not mentioned in its application, Ravn says.

The complainant points out that applications to the DOT require a description of the applicant’s fleet, including the number of each type of aircraft owned, leased, and to be purchased or leased; the applicant's plans, including financing plans, for the purchase or lease of additional aircraft; and a sworn affidavit stating that each aircraft owned or leased has been certified by the FAA.

In addition, it charges, Via has failed to provide fitness test information on the Saab 2000, such as direct and indirect expenses and how the amounts were computed. Ravn points out that applicants proposing to operate more than one aircraft type or model are required to include separate estimates of expenses for training, maintenance, preparation of manuals, for each aircraft type or model. It alleges that Via has not shown the required reasonable understanding of the costs of starting its operation; nor a specific and verifiable plan for raising the necessary capital to commence operations. Consequently, it was impossible to determine if the management team had the background and experience necessary for the operation.

“Via must provide to the DOT its actual plan for operation and all of the required information related thereto to show its fitness to operate that plan,” Ravn asserts.

While Via's notice and exemption application has been pending for a while, Ravn says it has only become aware of its short-comings since the social media post by Jodi Garza, Chief Administrative Officer of Alaska Seaplanes (J5, Juneau Int'l), which, together with Wexford Capital, are the founders behind the new Via, Ravn says.

Ravn itself restarted scheduled services from Anchorage Ted Stevens in Alaska on November 30, 2020, nearly seven months after its predecessor RavnAir Group stopped all operations before its subsequent bankruptcy.