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Bankrupt Alaska airline seeks bonus for its chief executive

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 13, 2020

People prepare to get on a RavnAir airplane at the airport in Bethel, Alaska, for a flight to Toksook Bay, on Jan. 18, 2020.   (Associated Press)
People prepare to get on a RavnAir airplane at the airport in Bethel, Alaska, for a flight to Toksook Bay, on Jan. 18, 2020.  (Associated Press)
Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The largest rural airline in Alaska has declared bankruptcy and laid off more than a thousand workers but wants to award $250,000 in bonus money to its chief executive and other employees.

Anchorage-based RavnAir Group filed the request Tuesday in Delaware bankruptcy court, arguing that the bonuses are justified because of long hours and the hard work that went into selling the company’s assets after it shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, Alaska Public Radio reported.

The final sale of all the assets is expected to generate more than $55 million, exceeding what the company anticipated. Chief Executive Officer Dave Pflieger has already collected $1.4 million in salary, bonuses and expense payments over the past year.

It is unclear how much of the $250,000 would go to Pflieger and to the other employees. Debbie Reinwand said in an email to The Associated Press that she no longer is employed as a spokeswoman for the company. Two phone numbers for Ravn Air Group did not allow messages to be left. One invited emails regarding customer feedback. One sent there seeking comment from Plieger wasn’t immediately returned Thursday to the AP.

Pflieger was not involved in conversations about his own potential bonus, but did participate in discussions about them for other employees, company officials said.

The state of Alaska and the aviation industry have questioned why the company agreed to sell several of its big planes and two of its operating certificates to California-based FLOAT Shuttle, when other companies offered to pay more money for the same assets.

One of those companies was Juneau-based Alaska Seaplanes, which offered $9 million for the same assets FLOAT Shuttle bought for $8 million, company President Kent Craford said.

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration expressed “limited support” for Alaska Seaplanes’ position and said it was concerned that “all bidders were not given a full opportunity to participate in a transparent auction process.”

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