July 19, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 29

Air Excursions changes hands

A former president and a former owner of Wings of Alaska are the new owners of Air Excursions, a commuter airline serving Haines formerly owned by Mike Loverink.

Loverink is staying on one year with the company and will serve as its director of operations. Long-term plans for the company include adding larger, turbine aircraft, said Kent Craford, Air Excursions’ new president.

“It’s a well-run company with a good reputation and an impeccable safety record,” Craford said. “We want to marry that with larger, turbine equipment. There’s lots of room for growth given Air Excursions is the minor, market-share holder.”

New owners include Craford, one of the former owners of Wings, his father Michael Craford and Mike Stedman, former president of Wings. They purchased Alaska Seaplanes Service, an airline serving Elfin Cove, Pelican, Angoon and Tenakee, last year.

The two companies will stay separate, Craford said.

Loverink bought Air Excursions as an on-demand charter outfit with six employees in 2000. It became a scheduled airline in 2009 and grew to 54 employees, he said.

“I was ready to move on and they were looking to go into a wheeled plane operation. It was a natural transition for them to purchase Air Ex to give them a foothold,” Loverink said this week. The sale included hangars, four of nine of the airline’s planes, vans, leases and buildings owned by the company.

Loverink is leasing five planes back to the company. Loverink, a pilot who formerly worked for Haines Airways, has worked locally since 1991. He said his plans were uncertain. “After (next year), I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do. I may head to Texas to see my grandkids.”

The sale was effective May 15. Air Excursions serves Kake, Hoonah, Haines, Gustavus, Skagway and Juneau.