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It came as a shock to me last week that PenAir, a regional airline based in Alaska, was ending it’s Portland-Arcata route. The route was supposedly profitable. They were the only competition against United at our local airport, which is badly in need of another airline as of now.

However, the news got way worse the next day: PenAir is filing for chapter 11 bankruptcyAs part of that, they are seeking to end all their routes in the Pacific Northwest and at their Denver hub.

What this means

Peninsula Airways, known as PenAir, is primarily a carrier on government-subsidized routes that are essential air service (EAS) communities. Lately, PenAir has been trying to expand its horizons to other routes, including one to my own little local airport, an effort that was heartily welcomed. PenAir flew from Portland to 4 different rural destinations in Oregon and California.

people walking down a ramp to an airplane

Thus, the bankruptcy news is a huge blow. The new routes were not generating as many passengers as expected and don’t appear sustainable, contrary to what I had understood until now.

The airline has ended service to many airports already, and many others are being phased out. The hubs in Portland and Denver will effectively be closing. Many of the cancellations were a shock to passengers with tickets, who weren’t given any notice that their flight was canceled. And I thought no-notice award chart devaluations were bad.

Not so fast now

Since PenAir is under contract to provide service to many EAS airports, the DOT has ordered them to keep up services on the order of 12-14 flights per week on these routes. They will keep providing service until a new carrier can be found to replace them. Their EAS routes include:

  • Portland to Crescent City
  • Dodge City to Denver
  • Liberal to Denver
  • North Platte to Denver
  • Scottsbluff to Denver

PenAir has no plans to cut the two EAS routes in the northeast.

Will PenAir recover?

I sure hope they do. They are a great little airline. I enjoyed my only flight with them to Portland. It was also nice to have a second option on which to use miles out of our local airport.

PenAir will be reorganizing under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The CEO hopes to come out of bankruptcy as a “stronger, healthier company.”

Here’s hoping we pick up another carrier. Alaska, will you pick up the PDX-ACV service? Pretty please?

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