Horizon Air

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Horizon Air
Horizon Air Logo.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
FoundedMay 1981;39 years ago (1981-05)
Commenced operationsSeptember 1, 1981 (1981-09-01)
AOC # QXEA002A [1]
Frequent-flyer program Mileage Plan
Alliance Oneworld (affiliate; Summer 2021)
Fleet size62
Parent company Alaska Air Group
Headquarters SeaTac, Washington, U.S.
Key people
  • Brad Tilden (Alaska Air Group CEO)
  • Joe Sprague (President) [3]
  • Constance von Muehlen (COO)
Website www.alaskaair.com

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 order to differentiate Horizon's planes from those operated by Alaska's other regional airline partner, SkyWest Airlines.


Horizon Air claimed to be the eighth largest regional airline in the US in 2003, [4] 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.


A Horizon Air Fairchild F-27 at Spokane International Airport. (1993) Horizon f27.jpg
A Horizon Air Fairchild F-27 at Spokane International Airport. (1993)

Horizon Air was formed in May 1981 by Milt Kuolt, Joe Clark, and Bruce McCaw, with initial plans to fly to Hawaii but later changed to serve Washington state. [5] The airline started operations on September 1, 1981, with three Fairchild F-27 aircraft. [6] Its headquarters were in an area that is now within SeaTac, Washington. [7]

Horizon Air's first route was from Yakima to Seattle and one week later, Pasco to Seattle. [8] 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, [9] [10] after both airlines were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars monthly, in order to consolidate and reduce their operating deficit. [11] Horizon agreed to purchase Transwestern Airlines of Utah in September 1983, once again to try to reduce operating deficit of the airline. [12]

Horizon Air Fokker F28 at Oakland International Airport in 1995 Horizon Air Fokker F-28-1000 Fellowship Silagi-1.jpg
Horizon Air Fokker F28 at Oakland International Airport in 1995

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). [13] [14]

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. [15] That summer, Horizon entered into its first codeshare agreement with United Airlines, [16] and on September 8, 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. [17] [18]

Late in 1985, Horizon entered into an agreement to purchase their chief competitor in Washington, Cascade Airways, [19] [20] but by early 1986 were released from the agreement. [21] Merger talks between the two had begun in late 1982. [10]

In January 1986, the airline became an international carrier when it began service to Calgary, Alberta, in association with Cascade Airways. [22]

Alaska Airlines struck a deal to acquire Horizon Air in November 1986. [23] The year before, Alaska had undergone 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. [24] [25] 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.

A Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 in Alaska Airlines' livery, reflecting the retirement of the Horizon Air brand Horizon Q400 LAX N423QX.jpg
A Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 in Alaska Airlines' livery, reflecting the retirement of the Horizon Air brand

In late 2010, Horizon's parent company, the Alaska Air Group, made the decision to no longer operate Horizon as a separate regional airline. [26] Starting on January 1,2011, 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. [26] [27] 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. [28] [27]

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". [29] The move left Horizon with a fleet consisting of a single type of aircraft; the Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 turboprop.

Horizon Air Embraer 175 in the "Alaska Horizon" livery, November 2018 HorizonAirEmbraerE175N633QX YYCNovember2018.jpg
Horizon Air Embraer 175 in the "Alaska Horizon" livery, November 2018

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. [30] 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. [31] 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. More experienced regional carrier pilots moved to higher paying mainlines. [32] Horizon responded with drastically increased pay for flight crews and worked with Alaska, its sister airline, to create more opportunities for advancement. [33] As a result, there is an influx of new, young pilots with less experience. [32]

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. [34]

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. [35] Gary Beck became CEO in January 2018. [36] In November 2019, former retiree of the company Joe Sprague returned to Horizon Air as president. [3]


Horizon's 47 destinations are located in the U.S. states of Alaska, 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.


Current fleet

A Horizon Air Q400 taking off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Horizon Air, De Havilland Canada DHC-8-402Q Dash 8, N413QX - SEA (20570100881).jpg
A Horizon Air Q400 taking off from Seattle–Tacoma International Airport.
Two Horizon Air Embraer E175s, in 'Alaska Horizon' livery, pictured in Santa Ana, California E175 QX.jpg
Two Horizon Air Embraer E175s, in 'Alaska Horizon' livery, pictured in Santa Ana, California

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

Horizon Air fleet
AircraftIn serviceOrdersPassengersNotes/sources
De Havilland Canada Dash 8 Q400 327676
Embraer E175 3012125276 [37] [38]

The Bombardier Q400, a high speed, high-wing turboprop, is operated in a single class configuration with 76 all leather, non-reclining seats, [39] two on either side of the aisle. In 2019 Horizon brought back Q400s which had been retired, because of the delayed delivery of Boeing 737 MAX to parent Alaska Airlines. [40]

The Embraer E175 regional jets are operated in a three-class configuration (first class, premium class, and main cabin) with a total of 76 all leather, reclining seats. The premium class/main cabin sections of the aircraft have two seats either side of the aisle, the first class section has a single seat on one side of the aisle and two seats on the other.

Historical fleet

Aircraft that have been in service with Horizon Air in the past are:

de Havilland Canada Dash 8-100 2419852006turboprop [41]
Bombardier Q200 2819972011turboprop [41]
Bombardier CRJ-700 2120012011regional jet [42]
Fairchild F-27 Unknown1981Unknownturboprop [43]
Dornier 328 1219931997turboprop [44]
Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner II UnknownUnknownUnknownformerly operated by Air Oregon [45] commuter turboprop
Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner III33UnknownUnknown [45] [46] commuter turboprop
Fokker F28 221984Unknownregional jet [47]
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-10 Unknown19841984first jet aircraft type operated by the airline [14]

Aircraft livery

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 adopting the trademark Eskimo of its sister company, Alaska Airlines, on its fleet. Horizon's Bombardier Q400 fleet was repainted with a new scheme prominently featuring "Alaska" across the fuselage and the Eskimo on the tail. The planes continue 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 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.


Company headquarters Horizon Air 44539.JPG
Company headquarters

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. [48] [49] 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 on February 1, 1990. Horizon's parent company, Alaska began serving Starbucks on February 1, 2012. [50]

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. [51] 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. [52]

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. [53] [54]

Accidents and incidents

See also

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