Alaska to launch Phoenix, Las Vegas flights as Horizon marches north

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Horizon Air will make its first entry into the Alaskan market next year, as its parent company Alaska Airlines plans to launch new routes from Anchorage to Phoenix and Las Vegas this December.

Alaska Airlines says that its regional affiliate will begin intra-Alaska service in March 2014 when it assumes flying that is operated by the mainline carrier's Boeing 737 aircraft.

The Seattle-based carrier also plans to start year-round Anchorage-Las Vegas flights on 19 December and seasonal Anchorage-Phoenix flights on 18 December through 19 April 2014. Both flights will each operate three times weekly.

Alaska Airlines already serves Las Vegas from Bellingham, Portland (Oregon) and Seattle, and Phoenix from Portland and Seattle.

The airline says that it is gaining flexibility to start the new routes from Anchorage because Horizon Air is assuming some of its Alaska flying.

Beginning 3 March 2014, Horizon Air will make its first foray into the state when it begins flying eight daily roundtrips from Anchorage to Fairbanks using 76-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprops.

Those flights will replace some Alaska Airlines' 737s that currently operate the route, allowing the airline to increase frequency between the cities from seven daily round trips to nine round trips, Alaska Airlines tells Flightglobal.

The Horizon flights will operate year round.

Also on 3 March 2014, the regional carrier will begin flying once daily between Anchorage and Kodiak, replacing one of Alaska Airlines' two daily 737 flights on the route.

Horizon's Anchorage-Kodiak flight will operate seasonally and will end on 30 April 2014, but will resume in October for the October-April season.

"Flying the fast and efficient Q400 enables Alaska Airlines to increase our frequency from seven to nine round trips a day for Anchorage-Fairbanks travellers, giving them more options for travelling between the state's two largest cities," says Marilyn Romano, Alaska Airline's regional vice-president in Alaska, in the media release. "It also gives us the flexibility to fly our larger aircraft to new destinations out of Anchorage, such as the new nonstop routes to Las Vegas and Phoenix."

Horizon, which until now has operated only in the continental UAS, will establish a crew base in Anchorage composed of 60 employees, including 30 flight attendants and 30 pilots, Alaska Airlines says.

Customer service and maintenance for Horizon's flights will be provided by Alaska Airlines.

"This is brand new for them and for us," Alaska Airlines says of Horizon's new service. "It will allow us to increase service between Alaska and the lower 48 [states] using our larger aircraft."

Horizon's Q400 aircraft have heads-up guidance systems and satellite-based navigation, similar to Alaska Airlines' 737s, says the media release.