Reorganization plan for Era set to take flight


Posted: Friday, December 15, 2006

Things are looking up on the Kenai Peninsula.

The emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy by Era Aviation is a sigh of relief from many who live here and rely on the service to get them to and from Anchorage, as well as those who are employed by them.

Era has been a mainstay at Kenai Municipal Airport for many years, and numerous residents have made the peninsula home because of the big city’s accessibility — for work and play.

The regional airline also connects us to Homer, Kodiak, Valdez, Cordova and the North Slope. However, Steve Jackson, who was named Era chief executive officer last month, said among the cities Era serves, the airline has the “most active number of flights” between here and Anchorage.

Needless to say, those numbers go sky high during tourist season. And although you can nearly jump on a plane at a whim most times of the year, those planning to travel in July need to book ahead.

Era filed for reorganization in December 2005. Jackson was brought on board as a consultant in January to lead the reorganization. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court confirmed a plan, which will allow Era to emerge from Chapter 11 on Wednesday.

This is good news.

Jackson said the company doesn’t “anticipate” making any more cuts than it has. In fact, he said it hopes to add more service.

Part of that plan includes the acquisition of three Beech 1900-D, pressurized, high-speed, turbo-prop aircraft. Pressurized means the planes will be able to fly above the weather between Anchorage and Kenai, Jackson said. Anyone who has flown between the two cities knows Mother Nature has no reservations about giving you cause to hang onto your seat when flying near the inlet. Flying higher is good, and more planes may mean more jobs.

There’s no doubt Era plays an important role on the peninsula, and its presence is needed.

Jackson says the court announcement has made a lot of people happy. We hope that while Era is beginning to regain altitude, it’s also able to maintain its place above the clouds.

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