Via Airlines Inc. t/a Sterling Airways (Jacksonville Craig, FL) has announced it has received its Part 121 certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and authorisation to resume scheduled passenger service from the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

This is confirmed by the DOT in a regulatory notice on March 11, 2021, in which it confirms that Sterling Airways is “fit, willing, and able” to resume scheduled passenger service as a commuter air carrier. The airline will have to submit to the Air Carrier Fitness Division a first-year progress report within 45 days following the end of its first year of commuter operations.

The airline applied to resume commuter air services in three states using one, and later a second, 50-seat E145 during the first year of resumed operations. It had ceased trading as Via Airlines (VC, Orlando Int'l) on May 24, 2019, and sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. After a US Bankruptcy Court approved its restructuring plan on July 20, 2020, the majority stake of 95% was acquired by Via Acquisitions LLC, an affiliate of Delaware limited partnership Wexford Capital LP, while 5% was acquired by VICP, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company. On August 4, 2020, the restructuring plan became effective and the parties closed the transaction on the same date.

In July, Alaska Seaplanes, a commuter airline in Southeast Alaska, had indicated it would partner the carrier to relaunch passenger air services formerly served by RavnAir Group subsidiaries PenAir and Corvus Airlines (now known as Ravn Alaska).

As previously reported, on February 9, 2021, Corvus Airlines objected to Sterling's application, but this was ultimately dismissed by the DOT. Referencing alleged plans with an Alaska Seaplanes Saab 2000, Corvus had claimed that Sterling intended to operate with aircraft and on routes that were not identified in its application to resume operations.

Sterling Chief Executive Officer Wayne Heller, in a statement following its recertification, said: “While Sterling has been certified as an ERJ 145 operator, we’re very much a blank canvas that can move quickly to meet the needs of potential partners and markets crippled in the wake of COVID-19. Sterling’s platform is designed to be the most flexible in the industry, allowing for additional aircraft types to be added to its certificate and operations that can be based anywhere in the US. For communities affected by the pandemic, this presents an option to quickly restore air service.”