Saturday, August 5, 2017

UPDATE: PenAir Dropping Humboldt Route, Effective Monday

Posted By on Sat, Aug 5, 2017 at 12:40 PM

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UPDATE: Just a few days after word came that PenAir was pulling out of Humboldt, the airline announced today that the company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and is looking to end its Crescent City flights.

Humboldt County will be back down to one airline option at the end of the day while our neighbor to the north will be left with none if PenAir receives permission from the federal Department of Transportation to terminate what’s known as “Essential Air Service” to the Del Norte County airport.

The EAS program subsidizes airlines to operate in small communities that would otherwise not receive service.

“The steps we are taking today will allow PenAir to emerge as a stronger airline, while continuing our focus on safe operations,” said PenAir CEO and Chairman Danny Seybert in a press release.

PREVIOUSLY: Once again, United is the last airline standing in Humboldt County.

PenAir announced quietly yesterday that it is shuttering its northwest route that included flights from Humboldt to Portland, effective almost immediately, with the airline's final flights leaving the airport in McKinleyville on Monday.

The airline, which came to Humboldt about a year and a half ago amid much fanfare and some apparently irrational confidence, scaled back the number of flights it was scheduling in and out of the California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport back in March, which was the first sign the new route was in trouble.

“The steps we are taking with closing Portland area routes will allow PenAir to cut costs, while management continues its focus on financial stability and safe operations,” PenAir CEO and Chair Danny Seybert said in a press release.

The airline hasn’t specified what will happen to folks who have purchased tickets into or out of the local airport after Aug. 8, but said they should contact the airline at (800) 448-4226. (When the Journal called this number Saturday, it just rang and rang with no answer.) The airline’s Crescent City to Portland route will remain in operation.

The shuttering of the route represents a relatively stunning turn of events for the company, which opened it without demanding a minimum revenue guarantee — the promised revenues that airports in small areas generally offer to airlines should they companies be unable to fill seats as projected — which have become a staple of modern airport-airline negotiations. The company was also so enthused by early ridership numbers that it added a third flight to its daily schedule, though it was forced to reverse that move earlier this year.

The move also leaves United, which also recently scaled back its number of flights in and out of Humboldt County, as the only airline servicing Humboldt County once again.

It’s not immediately known how many local employees PenAir has and what this means for them.

See the full press release from PenAir below and for more on Humboldt County’s ongoing struggles to expand local air service, see past Journal coverage here.


Alaska-based PenAir cancels Pacific Northwest area air service
Effective Tuesday, August 8, 2017, PenAir will cease operations of all non-EAS routes in the Pacific Northwest. This includes air travel on PenAir between Portland and Redding, Eureka/Arcata, North Bend/Coos Bay or Klamath Falls. The last scheduled flights in and out of Portland will be Monday, August 7. Flights operated by PenAir between Portland and Crescent City will continue as scheduled.
“The steps we are taking with closing Portland area routes will allow PenAir to cut costs, while management continues its focus on financial stability and safe operations,” said PenAir CEO and Chairman Danny Seybert.
PenAir flies to eight destinations within Alaska, as well as the Denver and Boston areas. Passengers on all other routes can expect continued operations with no changes to flight times or services.
Passengers scheduled to fly out of the Portland markets after August 7, may contact the airline at 800-448-4226.
About PenAir - PenAir, founded in 1955 by Orin Seybert in Pilot Point, Alaska, is one of the oldest family-owned airlines in the United States. The airline is also one of the largest regional airlines in Alaska and the Northeast U.S., and one of the largest operators of Saab 340 aircraft in the US. System-wide. PenAir has 700 employees and serves 25 destinations.

Press release from PenAir:
Alaska-based PenAir has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization with the state of Alaska. This action will not affect scheduled air service operations in Alaska or Boston. PenAir’s Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado hubs will begin the process of closing scheduled service over the next 90 days.
“The steps we are taking today will allow PenAir to emerge as a stronger airline, while continuing our focus on safe operations,” said PenAir CEO and Chairman Danny Seybert. “We will be working with a restructuring officer to present a reorganization plan that will allow the management team to focus on our employees, safe operations, retiring debt and taking care of our customers.”
PenAir recently announced the termination of the Portland-area regional routes as part of an immediate cost-cutting plan in the Pacific Northwest. All, but the essential Air Service (EAS) route between Portland and Crescent City, California, will be shut down effective close of business on Monday, August 7. This impacts scheduled flight operations between Portland and Klamath Falls and North Bend/Coos Bay, Oregon and Redding and Eureka/Arcata, California.
Today, PenAir announced the additional closing the Denver hub pending approval from the Department of Transportation.
PenAir is filing a request with the DOT to end EAS routes between Crescent City, CA and Portland and all regional routes served from its Denver hub. This will impact EAS routes operating between Denver and Liberal and Dodge City, Kansas and North Platt, Kearney and Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Once approved, this transition usually takes 30 to 90 days until a new carrier can be secured in the market.
PenAir serves eight destinations within Alaska, including Dutch Harbor, Cold Bay, Sand Point, King Salmon, Dillingham, St. Paul, St. George and McGrath; and three routes in the Boston area including Bar Harbor and Presque Isle, Maine and Plattsburgh, New York. Passengers in both the Alaska and Boston markets can expect continued operations with no changes to scheduled flight service. Employees in these markets will play a critical role in the reorganization process.
“Our employees are a key part of our success, and we are doing everything we can to keep our PenAir family intact,” said Seybert.
Passengers scheduled to fly out of the Portland market may contact the airline their travel was originally booked on, or PenAir at 800-448-4226.


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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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