New year-round jet service to Bristol Bay area now available

One of 30 Embraer 175s that Horizon Airlines is using to provide year round air service to...
One of 30 Embraer 175s that Horizon Airlines is using to provide year round air service to Bristol Bay.(Mike Nederbrock)
Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 7:21 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - According to Alaska Airlines, flying to places like Dillingham or King Salmon was a luxury only given out during the summer on a 737. Airline pilots say those are a bit too large to be the ideal plane for getting people from place to place in a state where flying is essential. With Horizon Air as the operator, they’re downsizing to bring flights to Bristol Bay all year round.

Now, these flights will be available all year on Embraer 175s: a smaller, more fuel-efficient plane that’s a great fit for regional travel so common in Alaska, according to Horizon Pilot, Captain Bill Corbin.

“It’s the right aircraft for the medium to short-haul operations with smaller loads," he said. "So it’s the perfect airplane for it.”

He also said due to its size, the jets are much better suited to land on short runways, although he said it’s not qualified to land on a gravel one.

Just because it’s smaller, doesn’t mean it’s uncomfortable. On the inside, there are 76 seats with comparable legroom and storage space to a 737. There’s also still a first and premium class area. In the main cabin, seats are separated into rows of two on the side of the aircraft, meaning no middle seat.

“There’s Wi-Fi, power, everything customers need to feel comfortable,” said Horizon CEO Joe Sprague.

The flights to Bristol Bay will happen daily, but Alaska Airlines Regional Vice President Marilyn Romano said there will still be 737 flights. The E-175s will also run a few other routes, including Fairbanks to Anchorage, she said.

In a terrible year for aviation as a whole, she feels adding these planes and these services are a good way to work their way back up to pre-pandemic travel levels.

“Sometimes, this type of flying with an airplane this size is a great bridge to get us to where we want to be in 2021 and beyond,” Romano said.

The flights run daily; the first was on Oct. 18.

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