The three air carriers currently flying as Era Alaska announced a major rebranding effort Thursday.
According to a statement from the regional air group, which says it’s the largest such concern in Alaska, the entities now operating under the Era Alaska name -- Era Aviation, Hageland Aviation Services and Frontier Flying Service -- will collectively be known as Ravn Alaska. The shift in names is expected to take several months.
“The effort is intended to distinguish the airline from others in the aviation marketplace -- a process nearly six months in the making,” announced Steve Smith, the airline's director of sales and marketing.
As part of the change, “Era Aviation will become Corvus Airlines, and Hageland Aviation and Frontier Flying Service will operate under the brand name Ravn Connect,” officials wrote in the statement.
Era Alaska CEO Bob Hajdukovich says the move to change Era Alaska’s name began due to confusion with Era Helicopters, which was once under the same brand. While Era Helicopters has since gone public, he dismisses any rumors of a lawsuit between the two companies.
Hajdukovich says the name began as “Raven,” but company officials removed the “e” from it to keep things simple. He says that while Ravn will operate statewide, the real challenge of the name change will be making the transition in rural Alaska.
According to Hajdukovich, much of the change will take place behind the scenes, with Hageland and Frontier flights retaining their original names on their aircraft but doing business as Ravn Connect. The flying public won’t even see the Corvus Airlines name.
The change comes after a plane crash operated by Hageland as an ERA Alaska Carrier, just over a month ago near St. Mary’s. The crash left four people dead. In brief written remarks accompanying Thursday’s statement, Smith said the Nov. 29 crash was not a factor in the decision to rename Era Alaska.
The name change “is not related to any other issue,” Smith said.
Flight 1453 crashed Nov. 29 near the St. Mary’s airport, while the Cessna 208 with 10 people on board was flying from Bethel to Mountain Village. Pilot Terry Hanson, 68, died in the crash, along with Mountain Village passengers Rose Polty, 57, Richard Polty, 65, and six-month-old Wyatt Coffee.
According to a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report on the crash, the plane had been scheduled to land in Mountain Village first, but was diverted to St. Mary’s by poor weather. Witnesses on the ground at the St. Mary’s airport reported being concerned about the plane’s direction and altitude, unsuccessfully trying to reach the plane by radio then finding it about a mile southeast of the airport after a brief search.
As part of the transition, the airline’s website is expected to move from its current home at flyera.com to flyravn.com.
This is a developing story. Please check KTUU.com and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.
Channel 2’s Corey Allen-Young contributed information to this story.