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Horizon Air (USA)

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Horizon Air
IATA ICAO Callsign
FoundedMay 1981; 38 years ago (1981-05)
Commenced operationsSeptember 1, 1981 (1981-09-01)
AOC #QXEA002A[1]
Frequent-flyer programMileage Plan
Fleet size65
Parent companyAlaska Air Group
HeadquartersSeaTac, Washington, U.S.
Key people
  • Brad Tilden (Alaska Air Group CEO)
  • Gary Beck (President & CEO)[3]
  • Constance von Muehlen (COO)[3]

Horizon Air Industries, Inc., operating as Horizon Air, is a regional airline based in SeaTac, Washington, United States. Horizon Air and its sister carrier Alaska Airlines are subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group and all Horizon-operated scheduled flights are marketed and sold by Alaska Airlines. Planes operated by Horizon are co-branded as Alaska Horizon in recognition of the Horizon brand and to differentiate aircraft from those operated by Alaska's other regional airline partner, SkyWest Airlines.

Horizon Air was once the eighth largest regional airline in the US, serving 42 cities in the United States and Canada. It was purchased by Alaska Air Group in November 1986 and continued to fly as a separately branded airline until 2011, when it shifted to the current capacity purchase agreement business model.


Horizon Air was formed in May 1981 by Milt Kuolt, and started operations on September 1, 1981, with three Fairchild F-27 aircraft.[4] Its headquarters were in an area that is now within SeaTac, Washington.[5]

Horizon Air's first route was from Yakima to Seattle and one week later, Pasco to Seattle.[6] The general offices of Horizon Air were operated out of an old house behind Sea-Tac airport. Horizon acquired Air Oregon on June 17, 1982, after both airlines were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars monthly, in order to consolidate and reduce their operating deficit.[7] Horizon agreed to purchase Transwestern Airlines of Utah in September 1983, once again to try to reduce operating deficit of the airline.[8]

A single Fokker F28 Fellowship twin jet, purchased in July 1984 from an African carrier, was the first jet owned by Horizon Air (however, the first jet operated by Horizon was a wet leased Douglas DC-9-10).[9][10]

An initial public offering occurred in 1985 to secure operating capital, which after only one profitable year since founding, was needed to keep the airline afloat.[11]

In the summer of 1985, Horizon entered into its first codeshare agreement with United Airlines.[12] Later that year, on September 8, 1985 Horizon signed an agreement with de Havilland Canada to begin purchasing the airline's first brand new aircraft, the de Havilland Canada Dash 8-100 twin turboprop.[13][14]

Late in 1985 Horizon entered into an agreement to purchase their chief competitor in Washington, Cascade Airways,[15][16] but by early 1986 were released from the agreement.[17]

In January 1986, the airline became an international carrier when it began service to Calgary, Alberta, in association with Cascade Airways.[18]

Alaska Airlines struck a deal to acquire Horizon Air in November 1986.[19] The year before, Alaska had underwent a major corporate restructuring with the airline now being owned by the Alaska Air Group, an airline holding company. Under the agreement, the Alaska Air Group became the owner of Horizon Air after approval by the Transportation Department in late December.[20][21] The Alaska Air Group continued to operate Horizon as a separately branded airline, with a codesharing agreement with its new sister airline, Alaska.

In 1988, Horizon signed a code share agreement with Northwest Airlines.

International service was expanded in May 1989 with flights to Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia, using both Dash 8-100s and Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner turboprop aircraft.

Horizon was the launch customer for the Dornier 328 turboprop, intending to replace the Metroliners with this new aircraft which promised speed and comfort on par with jetliners. In recognition of the order, Dornier painted its second prototype of the 328 in Horizon colors. Twelve aircraft were delivered between November 1993 and November 1995, but they were quickly phased out in 1997 in favor of fleet standardization to the Dash 8 series of turboprops.

Throughout its history, Horizon has either operated as a standalone carrier or as a regional affiliate of Alaska Airlines for most of its history, except between 2004 and 2007 when it operated Bombardier CRJ-700 aircraft on the behalf of Frontier Airlines.

In late 2010, Horizon's parent company, the Alaska Air Group, made the decision to no longer operate Horizon as a separate regional airline.[22] Starting on January 12011, Horizon shifted to a capacity purchase agreement (CPA) business model, which had by that time become the regional airline industry standard. Under the CPA, Horizon operates and maintains its aircraft, while Alaska Airlines is responsible for scheduling, marketing and pricing all flights.[22][23] As part of the change to the new business model, the Horizon Air brand was retired and all Horizon planes were repainted with a co-branded "Alaska Horizon" livery.[24][23]

Alaska Airlines entered into a similar capacity purchase agreement with SkyWest Airlines in May 2011. As part of the agreement, Alaska Air Group managers agreed to sell Horizon's fleet of five Bombardier CRJ-700 regional jet aircraft to SkyWest, which used the aircraft to operate six West Coast routes as "Alaska SkyWest".[25] The move left Horizon with a fleet consisting of a single type of aircraft; the Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 turboprop.

Horizon announced in April 2016 that it would expand its fleet and once again operate regional jets, placing an order for 30 Embraer 175 airplanes.[26] The order is the largest in the airline's history and was later expanded to 33 jets.

The airline experienced a period of turmoil in 2017. Amid unprecedented growth (spurred by the addition of the new aircraft), Horizon experienced a severe pilot shortage, forcing the airline to cancel hundreds of flights and delay delivery of new aircraft.[27] The pilot shortage was part of a broader problem affecting all regional airlines, but hit Horizon particularly hard. After the airline industry started to rebound in 2013 after a decade long downturn, mainline air carriers started to hire pilots, mostly from regional carriers which offer low wages and limited opportunities for advancement. Horizon responded with drastically increased pay for flight crews and worked with Alaska, its sister airline, to create more opportunities for advancement.[28]

In response to the crisis, Alaska shifted some of its flights from Horizon to its other regional partner, SkyWest Airlines. It was a move that Horizon's CEO described as "disheartening." Because of the shift, SkyWest ordered additional Embraer 175 airplanes that it will fly for Alaska.[29]

At the end of the troubled year, Horizon's CEO Dave Campbell announced that he would step down effective January 5, 2018, for personal reasons.[30]


Horizon's 47 destinations are located in the U.S. states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.


Horizon Air currently operates two types of aircraft, the Bombardier Q400 turboprop and the Embraer E175 regional jet.

The Bombardier Q400, a high speed, high-wing turboprop, is operated in a single class configuration with 76 all leather, non-reclining seats.[31] Each row on the aircraft has two seats on either side of the aisle.

The Embraer E175 regional jet is currently being delivered to Horizon and is operated in a three-class configuration (first class, premium class, and main cabin) with a total of 76 all leather, reclining seats. Each row in the premium class/main cabin section of the aircraft has two seats on either side of the aisle. The first class section is configured with a single seat on one side of the aisle and two seats on the other side.

The Horizon Air fleet comprises the following aircraft (as of August 2019):

Horizon Air Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers
F Y+ Y Total
Bombardier Q400 35 76 76
Embraer E175 30 3 12 12 52 76
Total 65 3 Sources:[32][33]
Fleet history

Aircraft that have been in service with Horizon Air in the past are (in alphabetical order):


At the start of the carrier, Horizon had a painted sunrise with a small beach with capitalized words saying "Horizon". Until recently, the current Horizon Air livery was very similar to that of its parent, Alaska Airlines, except for a dark red (rather than blue) cheatline, and the tail includes a stylized sun and sunset logo, rather than an Eskimo. Eleven Q400s are currently painted in special liveries. Some Dash 8-100s and Q200s (no longer in service with Horizon Air) had names of Horizon destinations preceded by "Great City of" or "Great Cities of" printed on the front of the airplane. The first Dash 8-100, N811PH was dedicated as the "Great Cities of Seattle/Tacoma" and the second airplane, N812PH was the "Great City of Portland". N824PH was dedicated as the "Great Cities of Pullman/Moscow" on one side and the "Great Cities of Moscow/Pullman" on the other side. N363PH (Q200) was the first airplane to incorporate the "deep bing cherry red" on the underside of the engine nacelle. This became the standard for Horizon's brand livery as well as the current Alaska Airlines livery. Prior to this change, the underside of the nacelle was painted "Horizon White".

On January 25, 2011, Horizon Air announced it was retiring its public brand and adopted the trademark Eskimo of its sister company, Alaska Airlines, on its fleet. As part of the brand change, Horizon's Bombardier Q400 fleet has been repainted with a new paint scheme prominently featuring "Alaska" across the fuselage and the Eskimo on the tail. The plane continues to include a small Horizon logo on the sides of the aircraft, which now appears in Alaska's dark blue color.

On March 5, 2019, Horizon introduced a new themed livery in celebration of Horizon's heritage. Bombardier Q400 #N421QX featured stripes down the side in the traditional Horizon colors and the sunset logo on the tail. The aircraft made its inaugural flight from Yakima to Seattle, the route of Horizon's first ever flight.


On-board meals and beverages

Flight time permitting, passengers in the main cabin are offered a complimentary small snack (cookie, nuts or a snack mix) and a beverage.

Horizon, like its parent airline Alaska, focuses on offering items produced by companies in the Northwest.[41][42] Coffee from fellow Seattle company Starbucks is served on all flights. Horizon Air was the first airline in the world to serve Starbucks coffee onboard its flights, beginning to pour the iconic brew on February 1, 1990. Horizon's parent company, Alaska began serving Starbucks on February 1, 2012.[43]

Horizon has set itself apart from its sister company and other airlines by offering free beer and wine from Northwest breweries and wineries to passengers of legal drinking age.[44] Liquors, many from Northwest distilleries, are also available for purchase.

On flights longer than one hour, passengers in the main cabin can purchase various "Picnic Packs" (several snack items, many from Northwest companies, boxed together) or individual snack items.[45]

Embraer 175 regional jets are equipped with a First Class cabin and Premium Class cabin and offer a similar onboard experience to that of Alaska, with complimentary meals in First Class, a complimentary small snack box in Premium Class, and complimentary alcoholic beverages in both classes.

On-board Internet access

Horizon's Embraer 175 regional jets are equipped with an in-flight Wi-Fi and streaming entertainment system. None of Horizon's Q400 aircraft are equipped with such a system.

Alaska and Horizon use Gogo Inflight Internet, a land-based internet service, covering all routes served by the airline. The service is fee-based for all passengers, depending on the length of the flight.[46][47]

Accidents and incidents

  • On May 2, 1986, a Fairchild Metroliner was hijacked over Oregon, between Eugene and Portland. The pilot convinced the hijacker to allow the plane to stop in Hillsboro to refuel and even let the pilot off the plane, who then called the FBI.[48][49]
  • On April 15, 1988, Flight 2658, a DeHavilland Canada Dash 8-100 (N819PH-Great City of Sun Valley), en route from Seattle to Spokane with 37 passengers and 3 crew members, crashed after attempting an emergency landing at SeattleTacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac). The number two (right side/starboard) engine caught fire (due to a manufacturing defect) after take-off from Seattle. Loss of hydraulic pressure due to the fire caused the aircraft to veer off the runway, across the grass, across Taxiway B, and crashed into the B7 and B9 jetways, destroying the plane. There were four serious injuries and no fatalities.[50][51][52]
  • On May 23, 1990, a Fairchild Metroliner III on a flight from Portland to Seattle suffered a window blowout at 14,000 feet (4,300 m) above Olympia. The flight made an emergency descent and landing to its planned destination of Sea-Tac Airport. The passenger seated next to the window, who was partially sucked out of the plane for a brief period, was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for his injuries and released.[53][54][55]
  • On August 10, 2018, a Horizon Air Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft registered N449QX was stolen from SeattleTacoma International Airport with only the perpetrator on board, prompting F-15 fighter jets to scramble and intercept the aircraft. After being in contact by Seattle/Tacoma air traffic control for over an hour, the aircraft crashed on Ketron Island in Pierce County, Washington, killing the perpetrator.[56]


  1. ^ "Federal Aviation Administration  Airline Certificate Information  Detail View". Av-info.faa.gov. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Horizon Air Company Facts".
  3. ^ a b Gates, Dominic (January 10, 2018). "Longtime Alaska Air exec returns to lead Horizon unit". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  4. ^ Endicott 2001, p. 32
  5. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 31, 1984. 844.
  6. ^ Endicott 2001, p. 52
  7. ^ Endicott 2001, pp. 119125
  8. ^ "Horizon buys Utah airline". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. September 21, 1983. p. C7.
  9. ^ Endicott 2001, p. 141
  10. ^ a b Associated Press (1984-07-02). "Pasco to be served by jets". Spokane Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  11. ^ "Horizon Air says it plans to issue stock". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. May 30, 1995. p. 4B.
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  13. ^ "Annual Report, 1985". Horizon Air. p. 1.
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  15. ^ Salquist, Bill (August 2, 1985). "Cascade Airways bought by competitor, Horizon". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. 1.
  16. ^ Thorpe, Norman (January 5, 1986). "Cascade Airways casts thin shadow". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. D1.
  17. ^ Bartel, Frank (March 8, 1986). "Horizon released from agreement to buy Cascade". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. A1.
  18. ^ http://www.departedflights.com, Jan. 5, 1986 Horizon Air route map
  19. ^ Briggs, Wanda (November 20, 1986). "Alaska Airlines to buy Horizon". Tri-City Herald. p. A1.
  20. ^ "Alaska Air Group gets approval to buy Horizon". Anchorage Daily News. Associated Press. December 24, 1986. p. d-7.
  21. ^ Endicott 2001, p. 230
  22. ^ a b "Horizon Air Changes Business Model". Aviation Week. 23 August 2010. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  23. ^ a b "Horizon Air Retiring Its Public Brand And Adopting Alaska Airlines' Eskimo". Alaska Airlines. January 25, 2011. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  24. ^ Mutzabaugh, Ben (2011-01-26). "Horizon Air to 'retire its public brand' in favor of Alaska Air". USA Today. Retrieved 2011-12-13.
  25. ^ http://travel.usatoday.com/flights/story/2011/02/Alaska-Airlines-signs-flying-deal-with-SkyWest/44166418/1 Alaska Airlines signs flying deal with SkyWest
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  28. ^ Gates, Dominic (September 28, 2017). "Pilot crisis has Horizon Air grappling with industry's new reality". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  29. ^ Gates, Dominic (September 6, 2017). "SkyWest orders more jets it will fly for Alaska Air, reflecting Horizon's troubles". The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  30. ^ Gates, Dominic (December 18, 2017). "Horizon Air CEO Campbell stepping down after troubled year". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  31. ^ "Bombardier Q400 Aircraft Information". Retrieved 2011-06-18.
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  33. ^ "Alaska Airlines Fleet Status & Repaint Progress". August 27, 2018. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  34. ^ a b "CH-Aviation Fleet Lists". Retrieved 2009-09-19.
  35. ^ "ATW Daily News". Air Transport World. 2008-07-01. Archived from the original on 2013-01-02. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
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  38. ^ a b Endicott 2001, p. 94
  39. ^ Guillen, Tomas (1990-06-12). "Faa: Window Trouble On Fairchild Planes Ongoing". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  40. ^ Song, Kyung M. (1999-09-27). "An Airline Divided Horizon Air Is No Longer Tiny, And It's No Longer One Big, Happy Family, Either". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
  41. ^ Group, Sinclair Broadcast. "Alaska Air, Tom Douglas and other big names launch Alaska Beyond".
  42. ^ "Introducing Alaska Beyond". Alaska Airlines.
  43. ^ "Alaska Airlines and Starbucks Team Up to Serve Freshly Brewed Coffee Onboard". Alaska Airlines. February 1, 2012. Archived from the original on March 12, 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  44. ^ Goldsmith, Philip (2008). Northern California Wine Country (2nd ed.). Moon Handbooks. p. 402. ISBN 978-1-59880-078-4.
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  46. ^ "Alaska Airlines In-flight Wi-Fi". Alaskaair.com. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  47. ^ "Alaska Airlines In-flight Wi-Fi Available On Most Every Aircraft". Alaska Airlines. June 2, 2011. Archived from the original on June 27, 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  48. ^ "Portland flight hijacked". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. May 3, 1986. p. A1.
  49. ^ Endicott 2001, pp. 191194
  50. ^ "Plane Crash at Sea-Tac injures 19". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. April 16, 1988. p. A1.
  51. ^ "DCA88MA052". National Transportation Safety Board. 1990-04-24. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
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  53. ^ "Man pulled partway through plane window". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. May 24, 1990. p. B1.
  54. ^ Tomas, Guillen; Corr, O. Casey; Birkland, Dave; Lane, Polly; Whitely, Peyton (1990-05-23). "Passenger Nearly Sucked Out Of Horizon Airliner". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  55. ^ "NTSB Incident Report". Retrieved 2009-11-12.
  56. ^ "Plane stolen from Sea-Tac Airport crashes on small island; no passengers on board". abc10.com. KXTV-TV. August 10, 2018. Retrieved August 10, 2018.


External links

Media related to Horizon Air at Wikimedia Commons

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