Horizon Air will end its operations in Alaska in March and has offered its 51 Anchorage-based pilots and flight attendants work in the Lower 48.
Horizon, owned by Seattle-based Alaska Air Group, has three Bombardier Q400 turboprop planes in Alaska. Two of them fly between Anchorage and Fairbanks and also to Deadhorse, and one is a spare. Operating the airline in Alaska has been too costly, said Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan.
"Since 2014, when it started service in the state of Alaska, Horizon has struggled to operate reliably and cost-effectively in such a difficult and remote environment," Egan said in an email. "These changes will allow Horizon to re-deploy its resources in more competitive markets in the Lower 48 and better manage our costs."
The Q400s will be replaced by Boeing 737 jets flown by Alaska Airlines, Horizon's sister company. The change will fully take effect March 10, though Alaska Airlines has already started taking over some of those flights.
One result of the change will be 25 percent more seats between Fairbanks and Anchorage.
Marilyn Romano, Alaska regional vice president for Alaska Airlines, said this is the only market she is aware of where Horizon is making such a change.
"It's about resources," she said. "With the jets, we have everything we need here (in Anchorage), whereas with Horizon, you've got such a small group of people, it just makes it a lot harder up here in such a remote area. It's a difficult decision. These employees have provided great service."
Employees were notified of the changes on Monday, she said. The spring schedule isn't final yet, but it will be similar to the one the company has today, she said.
Horizon made the decision to exit the Alaska market independent of the company's struggles with a shortage of pilots in the Lower 48, Romano said.