Air service changes have come in the state of Alaska. Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, with regional partner Horizon Air, announced the intent to bring the Embraer E175 jet to serve smaller communities in the state in June, and they have made good on their commitment.
In the beginning of April 2020, Alaska-based carrier Ravn Air filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, ceased all operations and laid off all its staff. Many Alaskan cities instantly lost air service, two of which Alaska Airlines serves only during the summer months: Dillingham and King Salmon.
Following Ravn’s cessation, the Seattle carrier began services to Dillingham and King Salmon with its Boeing 737-700 jets. While the 737-700 was fine serving the communities of Dillingham and King Salmon during the summer months, the almost-130-seat jet have far too much capacity for the winter months.
The solution to this dilemma came Alaska’s June announcement. The 76-seat jet’s entry into Alaska will enable Alaska Airlines to successfully serve Dillingham and King Salmon through the winter months despite their depressed demand.
Embraer E175 flights in Alaska commenced on Oct. 18. The introduction of service also fell on ‘Alaska Day,’ an Alaskan holiday that commemorates the day that the Territory of Alaska was handed over from Russia to the United States in 1867.
In addition to the jet bringing year-round Alaska Airlines flights to the two small communities, the decision will also give the carrier greater flexibility on the popular Anchorage to Fairbanks route, which are the first and second largest cities in the state respectively.
In a press release, Alaska Airlines Regional Vice President Marilyn Romano said, “This jet gives us the flexibility to increase daily frequency between Anchorage and Fairbanks up to seven times a day, and to provide year-round service to King Salmon and Dillingham. In time, the new mix of aircraft will unlock other markets in the state for future service.”
Although this will be the first time the Embraer E175 will be operated flights within Alaska, this isn’t the first time Horizon Air has flown within the state. The regional carrier previously operated turboprop aircraft on intra-Alaska flights from 2014 until 2018, when their flights were stopped due to the difficulty of operating cost-effectively in such a remote environment with limited resources.