OPINION: A message to Penair customers in the region
To our valued customers at Bristol Bay, and the Aleutian/Pribilof Islands, we wish to sincerely apologize for the service deficiencies of the last year or two, which have been below the standards that we built Penair on.
This all started eight years ago, when we made the decision that the Saab 2000 was the best aircraft to fit our customers' needs. They are now finally online, and we think those of you who have ridden will agree that it is indeed a substantial improvement.
Compared to the Saab 340, (or the DeHavilland Dash 8), they fly 10,000 feet higher, 100 mph faster, and best of all, can safely operate from a 4,000-foot runway such as Dutch Harbor and Sand Point, carrying 45 passengers and baggage.
They also have greater seat spacing, giving the effect of all first-class seats. As well, there is a built-in noise-cancelling system. So it is a far-better-performing, faster, more comfortable plane that can still operate off the 4,000-foot runway than any other aircraft on the market.
But we did not anticipate the long delays and extra costs caused by the fact that Penair is the first U. S. airline operator to put this type aircraft into service. So the planes that we got were from private, corporate owners that did not have to meet Part 121 airline standards. That required engine and landing gear overhauls, among other things, then the FAA alone took 1 years for operating approval.
That is what triggered the Chapter 11 filing. But we have already obtained substantial financial assistance, and are getting rid of the surplus aircraft and routes (outside of Alaska) as quickly as possible. We will emerge from the bankruptcy in the coming year, as the great service carrier you all remember, with the best-suited aircraft in the nation to serve your needs.
As far as the fare comparison between Ravn and Penair, as quoted by Mr. Bendinger of KDLG, he was comparing apples to oranges. There is so much variation in fares from day to day. For instance, on March 18, 2018 the walkup round-trip to Bethel on Ravn is $566, and to Dillingham on Penair is $592. Virtually no one pays $600 to Dillingham because of all our advance purchase deals, Ravn has a pretty normal fare to Bethel of $308 one-way, and when a flight is getting booked near full, the remaining seats can cost over $800 round trip.
As my son Danny likes to say: "We welcome any and all competition, as it only proves how good we really are."
Orin Seybert founded Peninsula Airways in 1955.