Horizon Air
IATA ICAO Callsign
FoundedMay 1981; 43 years ago (1981-05)
Commenced operationsSeptember 1, 1981; 42 years ago (1981-09-01)
AOC #QXEA002A[2]
Frequent-flyer programMileage Plan
AllianceOneworld (affiliate)
Fleet size43
Parent companyAlaska Air Group
HeadquartersSeaTac, Washington, U.S.
Key people
Employees3,208 (2023)[4]

Horizon Air is a regional airline in the United States headquartered in SeaTac, Washington, within the Seattle metropolitan area. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Alaska Air Group and it is paid by fellow group member Alaska Airlines to staff, operate and maintain aircraft used on flights that are scheduled, 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 started operations in September 1981, was purchased by the 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.

The airline is headquartered in the Seattle suburb of SeaTac, not far from Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, and the airline's primary maintenance base is at Portland International Airport. Horizon also considers Seattle–Tacoma and Portland airports to be its hubs.


A Horizon Air Fairchild F-27 at Spokane International Airport in 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 connected Yakima to Seattle–Tacoma International Airport and was followed a week later by Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco to Seattle.[8][9] 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,[10][11] after both airlines were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars monthly, in order to consolidate and reduce their operating deficit.[12] Horizon agreed to purchase Transwestern Airlines of Utah in September 1983, once again to try to reduce operating deficit of the airline.[13]

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).[14][15]

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.[16] That summer, Horizon entered into its first codeshare agreement with United Airlines,[17] 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.[18][19]

Late in 1985, Horizon entered into an agreement to purchase their chief competitor in Washington, Cascade Airways,[20][21] but by early 1986 were released from the agreement.[22] Merger talks between the two had begun in late 1982.[11]

In January 1986, the airline became an international carrier when it began service to Calgary, Alberta, in association with Cascade Airways.[23]


Alaska Airlines struck a deal to acquire Horizon Air in November 1986.[24] 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.[25][26] The Alaska Air Group continued to operate Horizon as a separately branded airline, with a codesharing agreement with its new sister airline, Alaska, while ending its codeshare with United Airlines.

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 late 1997, along with the remaining Metroliners, in favor of fleet standardization to the Dash 8 series of turboprops.[27]

Throughout its history, Horizon has either operated as a standalone carrier or as a regional affiliate of Alaska Airlines, except between 2004 and 2007 when it operated Bombardier CRJ700 aircraft on behalf of Frontier Airlines.

Brand phase-out

De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 in Alaska Airlines' livery, shortly after the retirement of the Horizon Air brand in 2011

In late 2010, Horizon's parent company, the Alaska Air Group, made the decision to no longer operate Horizon as a separate regional airline.[28] 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.[28][29] 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.[30][29]

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 CRJ700 regional jet aircraft to SkyWest, which used the aircraft to operate six West Coast routes as "Alaska SkyWest".[31] The move left Horizon with a fleet consisting of a single type of aircraft; the De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 turboprop.

Horizon Air Embraer 175 in Alaska Airlines' livery

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.[32]

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.[33] 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.[34] Horizon responded with drastically increased pay for flight crews and worked with Alaska, its sister airline, to create more opportunities for advancement.[35] As a result, there is an influx of new, young pilots with less experience.[34]

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.[36]

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.[37] Gary Beck became CEO in January 2018.[38] In November 2019, former retiree of the company Joe Sprague returned to Horizon Air as president.[39]


Main article: List of Horizon Air destinations

Horizon's 45 destinations are located in the U.S. states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.[40]


Current fleet

Two Horizon Air Embraer 175 aircraft, in Alaska Airlines' livery

As of October 2023, the Horizon Air fleet comprises the following aircraft:[41]

Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
F Y+ Y Total
Embraer 175 43 7 12 16 48 76
Total 43 7

The Embraer 175 is a regional jet 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 and main cabin sections of the aircraft have two seats either side of the aisle, while the first class section has a single seat on one side of the aisle and two seats on the other.

Historical fleet

Aircraft operated by Horizon Air in the past include:

Aircraft Total Introduced Retired Notes
BAC One-Eleven 2 1986 1986 regional jet, leased from Cascade Airways
Bombardier CRJ700 21 2001 2011 regional jet[42]
De Havilland Canada Dash 8-100 24 1985 2006 turboprop[43]
De Havilland Canada Dash 8-200 28 1997 2011 turboprop[43]
De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 56 2001 2023 turboprop
Fokker F-27 13 1981 1988 turboprop,[44] first aircraft type operated by the airline
One crashed after it being stolen.
Dornier 328 12 1993 1997 turboprop[45]
Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner II Un­known Un­known Un­known formerly operated by Air Oregon[46]commuter turboprop
Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner III 33 Un­known 1997 [46][47] commuter turboprop
Fokker F28 22 1986 2003 regional jet[48]
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-10 1 1984 1984 first jet aircraft type operated by the airline.[15]

Aircraft livery

Horizon Air E175 boarding at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

At the start of the carrier, Horizon had a painted sunrise with a small beach with capitalized words saying "Horizon". Until 2011, the 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 featured a stylized sunset logo, rather than an Eskimo. Two E175s are currently painted in special liveries. Some Dash 8-100s and Q200s (no longer in service with Horizon Air) had names of various 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.


Horizon Air General Office

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 serving and selling items produced by West Coast.[49][50] 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.[51]

Horizon's aircraft 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 and complimentary alcoholic beverages in both classes.

On-board Internet access

Horizon's aircraft are equipped with an in-flight Wi-Fi and streaming entertainment 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.[52][53]

Accidents and incidents

See also


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  2. ^ "Federal Aviation Administration – Airline Certificate Information – Detail View". Av-info.faa.gov. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  3. ^ "Jason Berry - Alaska Airlines News". AlaskaAir.com. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  4. ^ "Alaska Air Group, Inc. 2023 Annual Report (Form 10-K)". February 14, 2024. p. 14. Retrieved April 4, 2024.
  5. ^ Gates, Dominic (March 31, 2020). "Aviation pioneer Joe Clark, an innovator and serial entrepreneur, dies at 78". The Seattle Times. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
  6. ^ Endicott 2001, p. 32
  7. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 31, 1984. 844.
  8. ^ Endicott 2001, p. 52
  9. ^ Isaacs, Nathan (September 7, 2006). "Horizon marks 25 years serving Tri-Cities". Tri-City Herald. p. B6. Retrieved January 7, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Two airlines serving NW plan merger". Eugene Register-Guard. staff and wire reports. June 17, 1982. p. 9B.
  11. ^ a b Lee, Sandra L. (December 9, 1982). "Airline merger". Lewiston Morning Tribune. p. 1B.
  12. ^ Endicott 2001, pp. 119–125
  13. ^ "Horizon buys Utah airline". Spokane Chronicle. Associated Press. September 21, 1983. p. C7.
  14. ^ Endicott 2001, p. 141
  15. ^ a b Associated Press (July 2, 1984). "Pasco to be served by jets". Spokane Chronicle. Retrieved September 15, 2009.
  16. ^ "Horizon Air says it plans to issue stock". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. May 30, 1995. p. 4B.
  17. ^ Endicott 2001, p. 220
  18. ^ "Annual Report, 1985". Horizon Air. p. 1.
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  20. ^ Salquist, Bill (August 2, 1985). "Cascade Airways bought by competitor, Horizon". Spokesman-Review. p. 1.
  21. ^ Thorpe, Norman (January 5, 1986). "Cascade Airways casts thin shadow". Spokesman-Review. p. D1.
  22. ^ Bartel, Frank (March 8, 1986). "Horizon released from agreement to buy Cascade". Spokesman-Review. p. A1.
  23. ^ http://www.departedflights.com, January 5, 1986, Horizon Air route map
  24. ^ Briggs, Wanda (November 20, 1986). "Alaska Airlines to buy Horizon". Tri-City Herald. p. A1.
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  31. ^ http://travel.usatoday.com/flights/story/2011/02/Alaska-Airlines-signs-flying-deal-with-SkyWest/44166418/1 Alaska Airlines signs flying deal with SkyWest
  32. ^ Farley, Glenn (April 12, 2016). "Alaska Air's Horizon places big order for Embraer E175 jets". KING 5 News. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  33. ^ Gates, Dominic (June 29, 2017). "Horizon Air cutting hundreds of flights this summer due to pilot shortage". The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
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  50. ^ "Introducing Alaska Beyond". Alaska Airlines.
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