Alaska Airlines and sister carrier Horizon Air have purchased sufficient biofuel from SkyNRG, an aviation biofuels broker, to operate a total of 75 passenger flights using biofuel during the month of November. Beginning today, Alaska Airlines will fly a Boeing 737 between Seattle and Washington, D.C., for a total of 11 trips and Horizon Air will fly a Q400 a total of 64 trips from Seattle to Portland, Ore. The aircraft will be burning a 20-percent blend of sustainable biofuel that “meets rigorous international safety and sustainability standards.”
Air Canada launched the first direct competition against Bombardier Q400 operator Porter Airlines out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on May 1, when the flag carrier’s new regional subsidiary, Sky Regional Airlines, began service between the downtown Toronto airfield and Montreal. Flying under the new Air Canada Express brand, Sky Regional operates hourly Q400 service up to 15 times daily, between 7:30 a.m.
A change in management philosophy at Seattle-based Horizon Air will next see it adopt the colors and livery of its parent company, Alaska Airlines, and largely retire the Horizon brand by some time early next year.
The Teamsters-represented pilots of Seattle-based Horizon Air ratified a new five-year labor contract in late November, officially ending some four years of negotiations, the airline announced last month. Nearly 77 percent of Horizon’s 613 pilots voted, and some 59 percent of those voted in favor of the agreement.
Seattle-based Horizon Air will end all its so-called “branded” flying under a plan to move to a 100-percent capacity purchase agreement (CPA) model starting January 1. As a result, Alaska Air Group’s other subsidiary, Alaska Airlines, will assume complete responsibility for managing Horizon’s route network, along with all the risk associated with marketing and selling seats on the airline’s fleet of Bombardier Q400 turboprops and CRJ700s.
While second-quarter traffic posted by some of the largest publicly traded regional airlines in the U.S. followed the prevailing patterns set by their mainline partners, some carriers reacted to the exercise in “resizing” better than others.
Bombardier’s plans to increase production of its commercial airplanes by 10 percent this year remain intact for the time being, notwithstanding Bombardier Aerospace president and COO Guy Hachey’s statement today that some customers have approached the company about possible delivery deferrals.
The crash of a Colgan Air Bombardier Q400 that killed 50 people outside Buffalo on February 12 once again has the industry group that represents U.S. regional airlines fielding some familiar questions about the level of safety its members guarantee to the traveling public.
Horizon Air has negotiated a deferral of Q400 deliveries with Bombardier to re-time the shipments to coincide with the removal of the Seattle-based regional’s CRJ700 fleet. Horizon announced last year that it planned to sell its 70-seat jets, but as of last month it continued to fly 18 of them and had managed to sell just two to an operator outside the U.S.
The six largest network airlines in the U.S. reported a combined operating loss margin of 5.8 percent in the third quarter of 2008, marking the fourth consecutive quarterly loss margin since the group posted a profit in the third quarter of last year, the DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported yesterday in a release of preliminary data.