Alaska Airlines Bombardier CRJ-700 (N215AG) operated by Skywest seen at SEA.Photo by Keith Draycott.
Not too long ago, Seattle-based Horizon Air flew CRJ-700s for the Alaska Air Group. Then, Horizon announced they would get rid of the CRJ-700s and only fly a fleet of Bombardier Q400s). Shortly thereafter, Alaska announced they would absorbthe Horizon brand. Now, Alaska Airlines has contracted out with Skywest to fly Bombardier CRJ-700 regional jets on some of their west coast routes.
The Alaska Air Group felt there was still a need for a 70-person regional jet to serve some of their west coast destinations, resulting in Alaska Airlines contracting with Skywest to fly 22 daily CRJ-700 flights between Seattle/Portland and Burbank, Fresno, Long Beach, Ontario and Santa Barbara.
Interesting enough, Skywest is leasing the CRJ-700s from Horizon Air and flying them for Alaska under the new brand. The regional jets will sport the Alaska Airlines livery with a smaller “Skywest” on the fuselage. The interior will have blue leather seating, to match what you might find on an Alaska Air Boeing 737. However, the service will mirror what you would expect from flying on Horizon Air (yay free beer and wine).
“Alaska’s goal is to create a consistent customer experience on all of its regional-aircraft flights and provide a level of service — including beer and wine — that will compete against other regional airlines that offer a first class cabin,” Marianne Lindsey, Alaska Airlines Corporate Communications explained to Airline Reporter. “Coffee, napkins, cups, the inflight magazine, flight attendant uniforms and flight attendant announcements will match Alaska’s. Boarding passes and a decal next to the aircraft boarding door will indicate the flights are being operated for Alaska by SkyWest.”
Horizon hopes to have a single fleet of Q400’s by June 1st, matching Alaska’s single fleet of Boeing 737s. It becomes more economical for Horizon to lease the aircraft through Skywest since they have many more CRJs in their fleet, allowing economies of scale that Horizon or Alaska cannot match.
Horizon Air employees are trained to work with the CRJ-700, but since they will now be operated by Skywest, there will be some operational changes that have required employees to go through some re-training. “More than 2,200 employees at Alaska, Horizon, SkyWest and our partner vendors have been trained,” Lindsey explained. “More than 40 computer systems have been integrated and more than 400 processes have been confirmed–all to ensure safety and compliance, as well as a seamless product for our customers.”
Alaska didn’t indicate that it immediate plans for additional routes to be flown by the CRJ-700s. “We’re continually evaluating demand in all Alaska markets and will ensure the aircraft type and frequency (or capacity) continue to match demand throughout the Alaska system,” Lindsey confirmed.
I would imagine there could be some hiccups with so many changes happening at one time for the new Alaska, old Horizon and the addition of Skywest. However, Alaska has a good track record of keeping people informed and trying to make the changes unnoticeable to their customer. Although many of us airline geeks will notice a change of aircraft type and livery, most people just want to get from point A to B as safe and cheaply as possible.
Being a Seattle native, I have mixed feelings seeing the Horizon brand slowly going away. Alaska needs to be able to compete and keep themselves a strong independent airline. They have weathered many economic downturns without having to sell or merge. It is a love/hate relationship and it helps that Alaska Air’s livery looks so darn good on the Bombardier Q400 and CRJ-700.
Things of interest:
* Schedule of the Skywest CRJ-700s
* Photo of CRJ-700 in Horizon livery (N601QX which is now N215AG)
* An ex-Horizon CRJ-700 caught in Atlanta (N604QX)
* Photo of Alaska livery on CRJ-700 in flight (N215AG)
* Another photos of CRJ in AS livery on the ground (N215AG)
Image by Keith Draycott via Flickr
In April, passengers didn't have to spend a lot of extra time inside Seattle-Tacoma International Airport since many flights were on-time.
Happy news for Seattle and on-time performance. During April 2011, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) had the most flights departing on-time than any other airport in the US, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.
SEA had 84.97% of their flights leave on time, which puts them at the number one spot. Even when looking at all of North America, SEA comes in second, with Vancouver, BC (just north of Seattle) beating them out with 86.07% of their flights on-time.
Not only did Seattle’s airport do well, but Seattle’s hometown airline, Alaska Airlines did very well too.
Alaska was number 2 in April for most on-time flights with 89%, where Horizon Air (Alaska’s sister carrier) was number three with 86.33%. Not surprisingly, Hawaiian Airlines (which has a history of being the #1 carrier for on-time performance in the US) was first with 92.35% of their flights on-time.
Congrats to all those based in Seattle who work hard to make these results possible! Image: Benji Stewart
Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800 ready to go.
Sometimes when things go wrong, it is an opportunity to show what you are made of. On Saturday, Alaska Airlines computer system, used to plan flights, went offline due to a blown transformer. It took over 24 hours to get the system fully running again and there are still passengers who are trying to get to their destination.
From the media’s perspective, Alaska was on their game. During the outtage they posted four different press releases, allowing the media to update passengers. When this sort of thing happens with most other airlines, the media is lucky to get one press release after everything is said and done.
For passengers, both Alaska and Horizon effectively used their social media outlets to not only keep customers informed, but to apologize for the inconvenience. Alaska alone had about 25 tweets about the outage, either providing updates or talking directly to customers who needed assistance. Alaska Air President Brad Tilden and Horizon Air President Glenn Johnson also made a video apologizing for the delay, something that I have never seen an airline do, especially in the middle of the situation.
Now realize, this is all going on over the weekend. All these airline folks were working diligently to get the system back up and keep their customers informed. For me, that is true dedication.
Most airlines are too afraid to have such a public voice when something goes wrong. It takes a risk to be so public when things go wrong, but I think it seperates the good airlines from the great. Even though the computer crash only affected 18% of their flights, it is still a huge impact. Alaska did have to cancel 150 flights, affecting 12,000 passengers. Sure, for many passengers this outreach didn’t mean much help them feel better about not seeing grandma, but just like every other industry out there, airlines are prone to things going wrong. The airline business is extremely complicated and this just goes to show how something relatively minor can have such a large impact.
Cheers to Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air for being so open with the issues and getting them solved.
Alaska gets more kudos from Dan Webb via his blog Things in the Sky Blog and Brett Snyder on CrankyFlier.com.
The Alaska Airlines livery on a Bombardier Q400 (N441QX) seen in Portland this week.Click for larger.
It is one thing to see a computer generated drawing of a new (well I guess kind of older) livery on a brand new plane versus seeing it in the flesh. Russell Hill, a photographer based in Portland, was lucky enough to catch the first Bombardier Q400 with the new Alaska Airlines livery. Although the plane was spotted in Portland, it was painted by Associated Painters in Spokane, WA.
Not too long ago, Alaska Air Group announced that the Horizon livery would be replaced by the Alaska livery on the Horizon Air Q400’s. However, the Horizon brand of service (aka free beer and wine on the plane) will stay. This is only the third aircraft type (Boeing 737 and MD-80 being the others) to see this Alaska Airlines livery.
Other than the “Horizon” looking a bit odd, I really like this livery on the Q400. I am wiling to bet we will see the “Horizon” after the “Alaska” leave after people become more aware of the change (update: I have been told there is no plan to get rid of the “Horizon” next to the “Alaska”). It is sad to see the old Horizon livery being retired, but at least it is being replaced by Alaska and not some other outside company. The plane is not assigned to any one route and you should start to see it throughout the Horizon route system.
Thanks to Russell for getting this photo and be sure to check out his second photo of the Q400 as well. You can also catch more photos on Horizon Air’s Facebook page.