HORIZON SERVICE TO START THIS FALL
13 nonstop departures ultimately planned to West Coast cities daily
By CHRISTINE CLARRIDGE AND DOMINIC GATES
Seattle Times staff reporters
Alaska Airlines announced Tuesday that it will begin offering nonstop flight service from Paine Field airport in Everett to more than a half-dozen destinations starting this fall.
The Seattle-based airline will ultimately offer 13 departures to eight cities every day.
The all-jet service will connect Paine Field to airports in Las Vegas, Phoenix and Portland as well as California airports in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. The plan is for Alaska’s regional subsidiary Horizon Air to do the flying using its new Embraer E175 jets.
Flight frequencies for each destination, along with departure and arrival times, will be announced later this year, subject to government approval. It’s part of Alaska Airlines’ efforts to become the “go-to airline for anyone living on the West Coast,” according to a news statement released Tuesday.
“We are excited to be able to continue our commitment to the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest,” said Andrew Harrison, Alaska’s chief commercial officer. “We’re proud to become the anchor tenant of the new terminal at Paine Field. With so many new possibilities for business and leisure travel, we believe this will bring increased opportunities to our communities.”
In a statement, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said the new passenger service “will have a significant impact both on our economy and on our ability to attract world-class businesses to our region.”
The new Embraer E175 jets seat 76 passengers with a single aisle dividing four seats abreast. Alaska said it will offer three classes of service: First Class, Premium Class and Main Cabin. Passengers will have Wi-Fi connectivity, free movies and TV shows, and free texting.
An internal company note to employees Tuesday said Horizon will get the flights, provided the pilot shortage that plagued the airline in 2017 and caused hundreds of flight cancellations through the fall is successfully addressed by the plan to hire and train a substantial number of new pilots this year.
Horizon’s new chief executive, Gary Beck, offered an optimistic assessment: “Since November, Horizon has canceled no flights due to pilot shortages and has stepped up pilot recruiting and career development within Air Group,” Beck said. “In 2017, we hired 307 pilots, and with another 64 in training or scheduled to start training early this year, we’re on track to hit our 2018 hiring goal for another 349.”
Horizon employees enthusiastically responded to the news in comments responding to the internal memo. “This is awesome!!,” wrote one Alaska captain. “Some positive news to raise the spirits around here! Our North Puget Sound passengers will be happy to have this option.”
Alaska already flies nonstop from Seattle to 90 destinations, with the most West Coast nonstop destinations of any airline. United Airlines also plans to operate commercial passenger service from Paine Field starting this fall, with six daily flights to its hubs in Denver and San Francisco.
New York-based private equity firm Propeller Airports and Snohomish County are building the new passenger terminal at Paine Field. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) three-letter airport code that will be useful when booking flights from Paine Field is PAE.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter: @c_clarridge