Alaska Air Group subsidiary Horizon Air is flying a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprop to several airports in Alaska this week to prepare for the regional carrier's entry into the Alaska market next year.
Horizon flew one if its 76-seat Q400s from Portland, Oregon, to Fairbanks, where the aircraft was "debuted" to the community 9 September, Alaska Air tells Flightglobal. The aircraft will fly to Kodiak and Anchorage on 10 September before heading back to Portland on 11 September, it says.
"The purpose of the tour was to showcase the plane to residents of Fairbanks, Kodiak and Anchorage, where the plane will operate [in] March 2014, and [to] do some functional testing at the airports we'll serve," says Alaska.
In June, the company announced that Horizon will begin replacing some Alaska Airlines' Boeing 737 flights within Alaska in March 2014.
Horizon will launch revenue flights in the state on 3 March 2014, when it begins flying eight daily roundtrips from Anchorage to Fairbanks.
With the start of those flights, Alaska will cut its 737 service on the route to once daily from the current six to seven daily flights, according to flight schedules.
The company will offer 765 seats daily on the route with the change, down from between 792 and 1,021.
Also on 3 March 2014, Horizon will begin flying once daily between Anchorage and Kodiak, replacing one of Alaska Airlines' two daily flights on the route, which are currently operated with 737-400 combi aircraft.
Horizon's Anchorage-Kodiak service will operate seasonally through 30 April 2014, but will resume in October 2014, says Alaska.
That change will bring Alaska's total daily seat count on the route to 148 from 144.
Horizon Air's northward expansion has freed mainline aircraft that Alaska says will help it add flights to the lower 48 states.
Alaska plans to begin year-round Anchorage-Las Vegas flights on 19 December and seasonal Anchorage-Phoenix flights from 18 December to 19 April 2014.
Alaska has said Horizon will establish a crew base in Anchorage composed of 60 employees, including 30 flight attendants and 30 pilots. Customer service and maintenance for Horizon's flights will be provided by Alaska Airlines.
Horizon's Q400 aircraft have heads-up guidance systems and satellite-based navigation, similar to Alaska Airlines' 737s, Alaska has said in a media release.