Grant Aviation President: 'We're coming back.'

Apr 30, 2015

Last year, Bob Lowrance took over as President and C.O.O. of Grant Aviation and is on a mission to restore the trust of travelers in the Bristol Bay region.

Grant Aviation airplane prepares for take off.
Credit Grant Aviation

Bob Lowrance took over as head of Grant Aviation a little over seven months ago. He says his main mission is to improve customer service and win back the confidence of local travelers.

“What happened was we went into a two year downward run where we struggled to provide the level of service that rural Alaskans need in Bristol Bay,” said Lowrance.

Lowrance says Grant made a quick move to try and fill that gap in service left open when PenAir stopped all flights from regional hubs to outlying villages. But the airline was not prepared to cover the region.

“So we started missing flights and we started struggling to be able to provide the appropriate amount of planes for the routes we were serving," said Lowrance. "It’s been a tough road for us over the last few years and I know the communities we serve have struggled with us.”

Lowrance says the company bit off more than it could chew. He says his expertise is turning around companies and fixing what’s broken. Right now, he says his mission is to win customers back to Grant Aviation.

“And for those who have maybe given up on Grant a little bit, we’re coming back,” added Lowrance.

According to Lowrance, he has made changes in the way Grant is managed, including removing managers and creation of a customer service department.

“So first and foremost, it’s getting back to really looking at the routes we travel making sure we have the planes on our side and the resources to fly those flights. And then on the community side, making sure that’s what the communities want and need,” said Lowrance.

Grant recently hired former Alaska Senator Mark Begich to reach out to communities and learn what services they need and help Grant improve services. Many in Dillingham feel the price of a flight to Anchorage is too high and are looking for more competition in that market, but Lowrance says it will be a while, if ever, before Grant can fill that role.

“Before we talk about expanding routes, flying to new places, opening up a direct flight to Anchorage or things like that, we just have to get better at doing what we already promised to do," explained Lowrance.

Lowrance says he wants to work with communities on cutting off the flow of illegal drugs and alcohol.

“And these are tough issues, they don’t have simple answers but if nobody gets and pushes to see what can be done then we are just going to continue to deal with some challenges we face in rural Alaska,” assured Lowrance.

Lowrance says that customers in Bristol Bay can expect to see incremental improvements to service every few weeks over the summer where things get better.

“We won’t do everything perfectly and we are still going to make some mistakes," said Lowrance. "But I’d like to say you now have in Grant a leadership team from the top down that is fully committed to doing things the best way we can."

Bob Lowrance says it’s been hard to admit that Grant has made mistakes and to apologize for poor service but he says that travelers concerns are no longer falling on deaf ears.

Contact Matt at (907)-842-2200 or matt@kdlg.org.