Category Archives: Horizon Air

Alaska Airlines: Here’s how to become a pilot with Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air

Facing a possible strike by its pilots, Alaska Airlines is stepping up its efforts to hire more pilots:

Austen Pyle was 13 when he knew he wanted to fly — it was his first brush with the sky in a glider. Today, less than 10 years after that first flight, he’s starting his pilot training with Horizon Air, Alaska’s regional airline in the Pacific Northwest. Within a few months, he’ll be a first officer – following in his mentor’s flight path.

Lawrence and Austen at Aviation Day, 2015
Lawrence and Austen at Aviation Day, 2022

Like many pilots, it took just one flight to inspire a career. Lawrence Pavlinovic, then a Horizon Air captain and now an Alaska captain, was the glider flight instructor that auspicious day. He saw Pyle’s passion for flight immediately and took him under his wing – inviting him to Aviation Day, an annual event hosted by Alaska and Horizon to inspire careers in aviation.

“Lawrence really pushed me to explore aviation as an option,” says Pyle. “He opened my eyes, and I’m so glad he did.” 

Pyle, once the mentee attending Aviation Day, became the mentor over the weekend, discussing the journey to becoming a pilot.

Now’s the best time to become a pilot

The need for the next generation of pilots is greater than ever. Alaska and Horizon expect to hire more than 900 pilots by the end of 2022 to replace thousands of pilots who retired during the pandemic or are approaching the mandatory retirement age of 65. Across the industry, mainline airlines are hiring about 10,000 pilots this year alone.

Alaska Airlines First Officer Mallory C

But in between the moment a love of flying is sparked and a career, aspiring pilots like Pyle face a journey that requires a daunting investment of time and money. On average, it can cost around $90,000 for education, flight training and certifications, and pilots must log hundreds of flying hours before they can fly for commercial airlines. However, the opportunities for financial and other support while navigating this journey are growing.

Alaska has launched several pilot-development programs – including most recently True North, a partnership with two historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and Ascend Pilot Academy, a partnership with Hillsboro Aero Academy in Oregon – to encourage aspiring pilots from diverse backgrounds to follow their dream.

“If you’re going to do this, do it 100 percent,” – Austen Pyle at Alaska Airlines Aviation Day May 2022

Want to fly? Here are some tips and resources to get you off the ground:

Find your passion: Take a discovery flight

Flight schools and many flying clubs offer an hour with a flight instructor who includes an introduction to ground school as well as time at the controls in the air. Pilots say this is the best way to determine if a curiosity about flying will transform into a passion and commitment to do the work.

“Do one flight. That’s all it will take for you to decide if you want to become a pilot or not,” says Pyle.

Alaska’s annual Aviation Day events in Seattle and Portland also provide an opportunity for young people to explore careers across the industry. Seattle’s event was May 7, but there’s still time to attend the event in Portland, coming up Saturday, May 21. Learn more about registering.

Plan your pathway: Explore Alaska’s pilot-development programs

Pyle started out at the Evergreen Soaring Club and worked toward his pilot’s license while still in high school. “I actually got my private pilot’s license before my driver’s license,” he said.

When he started Central Washington University’s aviation program, Pyle interviewed right away for the Horizon Air Pilot Development Program, which partners with universities while providing a stipend, mentorship and a pathway to a future job at Horizon.

“That was really special for me as a freshman in college to know that I had an airline job waiting for me when I was ready,” said Pyle.

And Alaska’s newest pilot-development programs are designed to recruit students with diverse backgrounds, part of our commitment to increase the diversity of our workforce at all levels by 2025.

The True North pilot-development program was launched in fall 2021 in partnership with Delaware State University and University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, two historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). True North’s goal is to recruit and support BIPOC pilots on their journeys, and students receive guaranteed first officer positions at Horizon upon graduation, along with a confirmed path to Alaska.

Ascend Pilot Academy launched in March in partnership with Hillsboro Aero Academy in Oregon to provide resources and a career path for aspiring pilots, including those who don’t yet have flight experience. Once accepted, cadets receive a stipend and financial assistance for training, as well as a confirmed job with Horizon once qualified. “Aviation is for everyone,” says Carlos Zendejas, vice president of flight operations for Horizon Air. “Our programs help navigate the how-to of becoming a pilot, and we know that finances are a barrier, so our programs have stipends to help with that as well.”

We need to find the young pilots and we’ve got to grow them. That’s where True North came from.” – Captain Ron Limes, one of the founders of True North and Alaska’s director base chief pilot in Seattle.

Captain Limes loved planes as a child, but knew as a teen he was destined to fly them when he took a discovery flight over the New York City skyline.

Seek out support through pilot associations and flying clubs

Aerospace associations and flying clubs offer a wealth of resources – from scholarships to assistance in sorting through education options, to job opportunities. For example, Alaska Airlines Captain JP Wilson found a job at Horizon Air through a career fair sponsored by the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals.

Captain Wilson knew he wanted to fly planes from the time he was a kid angling for the window seat while tagging along on his dad’s business trips. 

Limes says associations provide vital guidance from mentors who have already navigated the journey to becoming a pilot, which is especially valuable for diverse students who are entering a field long dominated by white male pilots.

“You can find a group where somebody has already broken the barrier for you. I’m so thankful for the generations ahead of me who made the way smoother for me,” says Limes.

A few of the associations and clubs with Alaska and Horizon members: 

Find a mentor to help you stay the course

As a young man, Pavlinovic chased his aviation dreams for years, but kept running into roadblocks – from his parents, who initially pushed him to be a doctor or lawyer instead of a pilot, to the Air Force recruiter who told him he couldn’t fly because he wore glasses (not true). He credits a naval aviator who was a flight instructor in the Civil Air Patrol for encouraging him to not give up. It took many years, along with money from the veterans’ benefits he earned through 21 years of service in the Marines and Army, to achieve his dream of becoming a commercial pilot.

Now when he meets young people like Pyle who have a passion for flying, he’s eager to help them on their way. “Because of my experience in the military and the civilian world, which is where I did all my flying, I can tailor my mentorship to a young man or woman and talk through the different ways they can pursue this,” says Pavlinovic.

Across Alaska and Horizon, pilots take mentorship to heart, and veteran pilots are matched with students in all our associated pilot-development programs.

We look for pilots who want to be mentors, who want to give back. We ask about it in interviews. A lot of our pilots love to give back.” – Captain JP Wilson

Pyle has already found ways to mentor up-and-coming pilots. While still in high school, he put together a presentation on aviation careers for a class of fifth graders – complete with metal wings donated from Alaska and Horizon. And as a flight instructor, he would tell his students: “If you’re going to do this, do it 100 percent until you are done and nothing less.”

Now that he’s achieved one goal, Pyle has his sights set on another: “I’ve told Lawrence, ‘On your retirement flight, I want to be your first officer.’”

Photos by Joe Nicholson

Alaska Air Group reports a loss of $143 million in the first quarter

Alaska Air Group (Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air) today reported financial results for its first quarter ending March 31, 2022 and provided outlook for the second quarter ending June 30, 2022.

“Alaska has a proven track record and a resilient business model that delivers in good times and through challenging ones. We are on course to deliver 6% to 9% adjusted pre-tax margins in 2022, as we recently announced at our investor day,” said Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci. “March results were particularly strong, marked by our highest cash sales month in history and revenues that exceeded 2019 levels for the first time since the pandemic began. Our people are working hard to get our airline back to its pre-COVID size and to return to growth from there, all while delivering the operational excellence that we’re known for. It’s an honor to have our company’s hard work recognized by Air Transport World as the 2022 Global Airline of the Year.”

Financial Results:

  • Reported net loss for the first quarter of 2022 under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) of $143 million, or $1.14 per share, compared to a net loss of $131 million, or $1.05 per share in the first quarter of 2021.
  • Reported net loss for the first quarter of 2022, excluding special items and mark-to-market fuel hedge accounting adjustments, of $167 million, or $1.33 per share, compared to a net loss, excluding special items and mark-to-market fuel hedge accounting adjustments, of $436 million or $3.51 per share, in the first quarter of 2021.
  • Generated $287 million in operating cash flow for the first quarter, driven by increased advance bookings as both leisure and business demand for air travel continue to recover.
  • Held $2.9 billion in unrestricted cash and marketable securities as of March 31, 2022.
  • Ended the quarter with a debt-to-capitalization ratio of 50%, within our target range of 40% to 50%.

Operational Updates:

  • Announced plans to accelerate the transition of Alaska’s mainline fleet to all-Boeing and introduced new plans to transition Horizon’s regional fleet to all-Embraer jets by the end of 2023. This transition is expected to drive significant economic benefits through cost savings, operational simplicity and better fuel efficiency.
  • Extended the co-branded Mileage Plan credit card agreement with Bank of America through 2030, providing expanded guest benefits and accelerating Alaska’s strategic growth plans in the West Coast.
  • Modified the Boeing aircraft order to include six firm and 41 option 737-10 aircraft and 10 firm 737-8 aircraft. The new mix of aircraft types provides an optimal fleet for our network and anticipated growth.
  • Announced plans to renovate and expand Alaska lounges in Seattle and Portland to provide additional capacity and enhanced amenities, with both expected to open by 2026.
  • Received nine Boeing 737-9 aircraft, bringing the total number of 737-9s in our fleet to 20.
  • Added Air Tahiti Nui as a new global Mileage Plan partner, allowing our guests to earn miles flying nonstop between Seattle or Los Angeles and French Polynesia.
  • Expanded codeshare agreement with Finnair, bringing total codeshare growth to more than 250 routes since Alaska’s entrance into the oneworld alliance in 2021.

Recognition and Awards:

  • Awarded the 2022 Airline of the Year by Air Transport World, given to an airline each year in recognition of outstanding performance, innovation and superior service.
  • Named to the TIME100 Most Influential Companies list, highlighting Alaska’s commitment to make meaningful changes in the climate impact of aviation.

Environmental, Social and Governance Updates:

  • Announced Patricia Bedient as the next chair of Alaska Air Group’s Board of Directors, replacing Brad Tilden effective May 5, 2022.
  • Launched the Ascend Pilot Academy in partnership with Hillsboro Aero Academy, providing aspiring pilots a simpler and more financially accessible path to become a commercial pilot at Horizon and Alaska.
  • Alongside other oneworld partners, signed two offtake agreements to procure sustainable aviation fuel for California operations, beginning in 2024.

The following table reconciles the company’s reported GAAP net loss per share (EPS) for the three months ended March 31, 2022 and 2021 to adjusted amounts.

Three Months Ended March 31,
2022 2021
(in millions, except per-share amounts) Dollars EPS Dollars EPS
GAAP net loss per share $             (143) $            (1.14) $             (131) $            (1.05)
Payroll Support Program grant wage offset (411) (3.31)
Mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments (107) (0.85) (22) (0.18)
Special items – fleet transition and related charges(a) 75 0.60 18 0.14
Special items – restructuring charges(b) 11 0.09
Income tax effect of reconciling items above 8 0.06 99 0.80
Non-GAAP adjusted net loss per share $             (167) $            (1.33) $             (436) $            (3.51)
(a) Special items – fleet transition and related charges in the three months ended March 31, 2022 are primarily comprised of impairment charges associated on the Q400 fleet that will be retired from the operating service by the end of 2023.
(b) Special items – restructuring charges in the three months ended March 31, 2021 represent adjustments to total estimated cost for pilot incentive leaves as a result of updated recall timing from what was previously anticipated due to schedule changes, training limitations and other factors.

Statistical data, as well as a reconciliation of the reported non-GAAP financial measures, can be found in the accompanying tables. A glossary of financial terms can be found on the last page of this release.

A conference call regarding the first quarter results will be streamed online at 8:30 a.m. PDT on April 21, 2022. It can be accessed at www.alaskaair.com/investors. For those unable to listen to the live broadcast, a replay will be available after the conclusion of the call.

Second Quarter and Full Year 2022 Outlook

Q2 Expectation(a)
Capacity (ASMs) % change versus 2019(a) Down 6% to 9%
Revenue passengers % change versus 2019(a) Down 10% to 12%
Passenger load factor 85% to 88%
Total revenue % change versus 2019(a) Up 5% to 8%
Cost per ASM excluding fuel and special items (CASMex) % change versus 2019(a) Up 16% to 19%
Economic fuel cost per gallon $3.25 to $3.30
Non-operating expense $7 million to $9 million
Adjusted tax rate ~24% to 25%
(a) Due to the unusual nature of 2021 and 2020, all 2022 comparisons are versus the second quarter of 2019.

We recently reduced Q2 scheduled capacity in response to shortfalls in throughput from our pilot training department versus what was originally planned. For this reason, coupled with our commitment to exit the Airbus A320 fleet on an accelerated timeline, as well as persistent high oil prices, we have reduced our planned capacity growth modestly as compared to previous expectations.

For these reasons, we’ve also reduced our full year 2022 capacity expectations from up 1% to 3% versus 2019, to flat to down 3% versus 2019. As a direct result of the reduction in full year capacity expectations, we expect full year 2022 CASMex to be up 6% to 8% compared to our prior expectation of up 3% to 5%. We continue to expect full year 2022 adjusted pre-tax margins between 6% and 9%.

 

This news release may contain forward-looking statements subject to the safe harbor protection provided by Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements relate to future events and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause actual outcomes to be materially different from those indicated by our forward-looking statements, assumptions or beliefs. For a comprehensive discussion of potential risk factors, see Item 1A of the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021. Some of these risks include competition, labor costs, relations and availability, general economic conditions including those associated with pandemic recovery, increases in operating costs including fuel, inability to meet cost reduction, ESG and other strategic goals, seasonal fluctuations in demand and financial results, supply chain risks, events that negatively impact aviation safety and security, and changes in laws and regulations that impact our business. All of the forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by reference to the risk factors discussed in our most recent Form 10-K and in our subsequent SEC filings. We operate in a continually changing business environment, and new risk factors emerge from time to time. Management cannot predict such new risk factors, nor can it assess the impact, if any, of such new risk factors on our business or events described in any forward-looking statements. We expressly disclaim any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements made today to conform them to actual results. Over time, our actual results, performance or achievements may differ from the anticipated results, performance or achievements that are expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements, assumptions or beliefs and such differences might be significant and materially adverse.

 

Alaska resumes its full schedule at Paine Field in June

Alaska Airlines has made this announcement:

After an exceptionally long two years, our guests are flying again – ready to go places and see people. At the newest commercial airport in the Seattle area, Alaska Airlines is making it easier to get going by adding more convenient flights as we ramp up to resuming our full schedule at Paine Field in Everett this summer.

Starting June 17, we’ll increase to 18 peak daily departures – our full allotment of departures at the airport – which will include four daily nonstops to San Francisco, one of Alaska’s key hubs that’s the center of Bay Area business travel. Service between Paine Field and San Francisco resumes on May 19.

From Everett, we fly to Boise, Las Vegas, Orange County, Palm Springs, Phoenix, San Diego, Spokane and Tucson.

Our sister carrier Horizon Air provides most of our service at Paine Field with the Embraer 175 jet. We recently added 737 service on Alaska for the afternoon flights to Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air launch Ascend Pilot Academy

Pictured here is Captain Emma Bryson of Redmond, OR, who went on from instructing at Hillsboro Aero Academy to flying for Horizon Air as an E175 captain.

Alaska Airlines and its regional partner Horizon Air are teaming up with Hillsboro Aero Academy, a premier flight school in the Pacific Northwest, to launch the Ascend Pilot Academy (APA). This new development program, designed for aspiring pilots, provides a simpler, more financially accessible path to becoming a commercial pilot at Horizon and eventually Alaska. The program is part of a larger effort to address a growing pilot shortage coupled with increased travel demand.

In partnership with Hillsboro Aero, the two airlines will register and train up to 250 students a year. Once enrolled, cadet pilots will be eligible for low-interest financial aid, a $25,000 stipend to cover the cost of a commercial pilot license, mentorship and guidance from Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air pilots and a conditional job offer at Horizon Air, with an opportunity to fly with Alaska Airlines after meeting certain criteria.

“Launching the Ascend Pilot Academy addresses a critical need to build a larger and more diverse talent pipeline and remove historical barriers to entry for aspiring pilots,” said Joe Sprague, Horizon Air president. “Our goal is to create a program that enables students to complete an intensive training and time-building program, with a clear and established path toward flying for Horizon as a first officer.”

An industry-wide shortage of pilots has emerged during the pandemic. Over the past two years, thousands of pilots at major airlines took early retirements, accelerating a pilot shortage that was already on the horizon. In 2022 alone, mainline airlines are expected to hire more than 10,000 pilots – twice the amount hired in 2019. With 80% of these hires anticipated to be sourced from regional airlines like Horizon Air, a more robust talent pipeline is critical to maintaining operational efficiency and business growth.

Combined, Alaska and Horizon estimate they will need to hire 500 pilots a year, or 2,000 by 2025. The Ascend Pilot Academy is one part of building that diverse talent pipeline.

“We’re taking a number of steps to actively recruit pilots at both Alaska and Horizon, including enhancing our existing Pilot Development Program and launching a robust marketing recruiting campaign,” added Sprague.

Barriers to entry

The barriers to entry for aspiring pilots can seem nearly impossible to overcome, particularly for young people who are unable to afford the estimated $70,000 to $90,000 to pay for training, schooling, and the licenses to become a commercially rated pilot. Furthermore, it can be difficult for flight school students to secure government-backed financing, which means financing terms are often prohibitive.

In response to these challenges, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air have been advocating for expanded federal student loan aid to also cover costs associated with flight education.

“It should be as easy to get a federally backed, low-interest student loan to become a pilot as it is to attend medical school,” Sprague said. “The Ascend Pilot Academy aims to do just that.”

A Pacific Northwest partnership

With campuses located in Hillsboro and Redmond, Oregon, near the metropolitan areas of Portland and Bend, Hillsboro Aero Academy is a premier flight school and long-time Horizon Air partner. Hillsboro’s fleet of 95 aircraft are equipped with modern avionics, and their training staff are working directly with Horizon’s to develop instructional practices to best prepare students to fly in an airline environment.

“Through this program, an aspiring commercial pilot will be able to realize their dream of learning to fly, and work toward becoming a captain at Alaska Airlines,” said Nik Kresse, Hillsboro Aero Academy’s vice president of airplane flight operations. “Enrolling in Ascend Pilot Academy is the first step of what we hope will be a long relationship with Horizon Air and Alaska Airlines. We’re eager to work with students through their entire journey and provide world-class training and dedicated pilot mentorship along the way.”

Many pilots at Alaska and Horizon either started their careers at Hillsboro or instructed at Hillsboro. Horizon E175 captain Emma Bryson and her husband, E175 captain Ian Bryson, both previously worked as Hillsboro flight instructors.

“Hillsboro Aero Academy and Horizon Air were the clear choice as the place to build my career,” said Emma Bryson, “They made a point of explaining that this is a place you could stay if you wanted. My husband and I chose Hillsboro Aero because it was close to home and we thought flying in the Pacific Northwest was the best way to learn to fly in all types of weather and terrain.”

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air offer pilots a highly competitive compensation and benefits package, in addition to a supportive work environment with opportunities for growth. Employees receive travel privileges across Alaska Airlines’ impressive flight network that includes 120 destinations across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and Belize, as well as the ability to fly space-available on any of the 13 member airlines of the oneworld global alliance.

Interested students can learn more about Ascend Pilot Academy and enroll at: https://careers.alaskaair.com/career-opportunities/pilots/pilot-training/.

Alaska Airlines to add larger jets to its Paine Field operation

Alaska Airlines will begin operating its own Boeing 737 aircraft from Paine Field in Everett.

Boeing 737 service from PAE to Phoenix starts on February 17 followed by Las Vegas on March according to Herald Net.

Horizon Air currently operates Embraer 175 Alaska Horizon service into PAE.

 

Alaska Air Group is collaborating with ZeroAvia to develop hydrogen powertrain for 76-seat zero-emission aircraft

ZeroAvia has made this announcement:

  • ZeroAvia will incorporate a 3MW+ hydrogen-electric powertrain system into a De Havilland DHC-8-400 (Q400) aircraft.
  • Joint development collaboration also adds Alaska Airlines to ZeroAvia’s list of investors.
  • The aircraft will contain a ZA2000, the largest ZeroAvia’s powertrain platform, capable of producing between 2,000 kW and 5,000 kW.

ZeroAvia is gaining altitude as the leader in zero-emission passenger aircraft as it announces a development collaboration with Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines, for a hydrogen-electric powertrain capable of flying 76-seat regional aircraft in excess of 500 NM. Alaska is also joining the list of top investors for the company, alongside a fellow Seattle-based Amazon Climate Pledge Fund and Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

Alaska and ZeroAvia engineers will work together to scale the company’s existing powertrain platform to produce the ZA2000, an engine family capable of producing between 2,000 and 5,000 kilowatts of power with a 500-mile range. The partnership will initially deploy ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric propulsion technology into a full-size De Havilland Q400 aircraft, previously operated by Alaska Air Group subsidiary Horizon Air Industries, Inc., capable of transporting 76 passengers.

ZeroAvia will also work closely with aircraft regulators during this project to ensure the aircraft meets both safety and operational requirements. ZeroAvia will set up a location in the Seattle area to support this initiative.

Alaska has also secured options for up to 50 kits to begin converting its regional aircraft to hydrogen-electric power through ZeroAvia’s zero-emission powertrain, starting with the Q400 aircraft. This pioneering zero-emission aviation rollout will be supported by the ground fuel production and dispensing infrastructure from ZeroAvia and its infrastructure partners, such as Shell. Working to advance novel propulsion is one of the five parts of Alaska’s strategy to achieve net zero.

Recently, ZeroAvia also successfully ground-tested its 600kW powertrain capable of flying airframes 10-20 seats in size 500 miles, is well advanced in preparing a 19-seat aircraft for flight testing at Cotswold Airport in the UK and is moving to full-size prototype manufacturing of its 2,000 kW engine for demonstrations in 2022.

Video:

Horizon Air celebrates 40 years of flying in the Pacific Northwest

From the Alaska Airlines blog:

On September 1, 40 years ago, Horizon Air, our sister airline in the Pacific Northwest, flew its first flight between Seattle and Yakima, Washington.

If you’re from the PNW there’s a strong chance you’ve flown with Horizon. They’re the regional airline for Alaska Airlines and help connect our guests in the West with the world.

“Horizon connects us all to the Pacific Northwest’s incredible outdoor communities and amazing small cities and enables our connection to the country and world. Horizon Air employees make travel feel personal and bring incredible heart and care to every guest,” said Ben Minicucci, Alaska CEO.

Meet Travion Smith, a ground service agent in Seattle who stays “grounded” through kindness and awareness. Read more

Did you know?

  • Horizon flies to more than 50 destinations in our route network.
  • First airline to serve Starbucks coffee in the sky.
  • Are always looking for great new team members. Check out current job openings!
  • Known for delivering performance with excellence and developing industry leading innovations to create safe, incomparable flying experiences.
  • Flies 32 Bombardier Q400 aircraft—perfectly suited for serving smaller communities in the PNW—and 30 Embraer E175 aircraft.
  • Well known for offering FREE beer + wine to guests 21 years young on Q400 flights!

To commemorate Horizon’s momentous day, a special flight will fly the same route that started it all on Sept 1, 1981. This time, it will be flown on Horizon’s “Meatball” plane, a custom-painted retro-themed aircraft, which will fly some of its beloved employees and guests from Seattle to Yakima.

“We’re flying our meatball livery on the same route Horizon flew 40 years ago,” said Capt. Perry Solmonson, 40th Anniversary Committee Chair. “This is a huge milestone for us and this anniversary flight recognizes not only the hard and successful work accomplished to date, but also celebrate our up-and-coming team members of the future.”

40 years of history

Founded in 1981 by entrepreneur Milt Kuolt and a group of venture capitalists in Seattle, Horizon had fewer than 100 employees at that time and operated a fleet of two Fairchild F-27 propjets.

Kuolt believed that every guest deserved more than just a ride from point A to B, which turned into the superior service that Horizon is still known for today.

“Service began with complimentary wine then blossomed into other little but much-appreciated amenities such as free newspapers handed out at the gate, complimentary coffee, and baskets on board filled with munching snacks that included all kinds of goodies,” wrote Robert J. Serling in the chapter on Horizon Air in the book, Character & Characters: The Spirit of Alaska Airlines.

The service created a culture, a way of life and a state of mind that was “firmly embedded in the work ethic and attitude of every Horizon employee,” wrote Serling.

Today, Horizon has more than 3,500 employees and operates a fleet of 62 aircraft.

Reaching 40 years is a huge milestone. Despite the ups and downs of the industry, it’s been the people of Horizon who have carried the company forward. Our 40th anniversary is all about our people.

First Officer Perry Solmonson waves from the cockpit.

“What I love most about Horizon is our family unit. I have never seen a group of people come together more for the good of a company or each other as I have witnesses during my time with QX. The commitment to our values, the love and respect we show each other and the service to our guests across all work groups is unmatched. I look forward to seeing my colleagues who I consider extended family.” – Natalie Razor, Flight Attendant. SEA

“I love the opportunities to travel around the world on behalf of Horizon Air. I love the opportunities I’ve had to mentor the next generations of Maintenance Technicians. I love the opportunities to travel through the system and assist in new station openings. I love the dynamics of the business, always learning the new aircraft, working through the highs and lows, (9-11, the pandemic). Raising my family.” – Willard Clark, lead technician, GEG

“Being a part of the Horizon family is exactly that. Like any family, we have our ups and downs, highs and lows. We support our Horizon family members and help each other overcome our problems. Some say you can’t pick your family; Horizon is the exception.” – Bill Bowling, Q400 Captain, PDX

“Growing up in the tiny town of Connell, WA; Horizon Air was the airline I trusted to get me to the nearest major airport. It is always the airline I flew on my voyage outside of home and back to my home. Now I am living in Seattle and Horizon still connects me to my parents in my hometown that I love flying to! I am proud to be part of the airline that keeps us connected through the years. #PSC” – Jaime Chavez, passenger service agent, SEA

“I love the loyalty and dedication the employees have and flying with a regional airline I see that same loyalty with our customers. In the short 10 months I have already seen several of our elites on a regular basis and it feels good to be able to build that relationship with them.” – Catherine Alder, Flight Attendant, PDX 

Updated 2021 University of Washington college livery

Above Copyright Photo: Alaska Horizon (Horizon Air) Bombardier DHC-8-402 (Q400) N435QX (msn 4232) (Huskies – Go Dawgs) SEA (Michael B. Ing). Image: 954699.

Horizon Air aircraft slide show:

Alaska Horizon aircraft slide show:

Alaska Airlines to reward its vaccinated employees with a $200 payment

Alaska Airlines made this announcement:

Throughout the pandemic, the safety of our employees and guests has always come first, and we are committed to protecting our fellow employees, guests and loved ones from the impacts of the COVID-19 virus.

We believe having as many people as possible vaccinated is the is best path for protection against COVID-19 and we will continue to strongly encourage our employees to be vaccinated. As of today, 75% of Alaska and Horizon employees who have shared their vaccination status are vaccinated. This is good progress, but we have more work to do. That’s why we are implementing new measures designed to increase vaccination rates and enhance our multi-layered approach to safety.

Moving forward, we will implement a testing protocol for unvaccinated employees as another layer of safety, while continuing to enforce safety protocols such as masking and distancing. We will also require all unvaccinated employees to participate in a vaccine education program and have stopped special COVID pay for unvaccinated employee absences due to exposure or infection. All new hires, effective immediately, will be required to be vaccinated before being hired at Alaska Airlines or Horizon Air. Finally, we will recognize those employees who provide proof of vaccination with a $200 payment.

And as we have throughout the pandemic, we’ll continue to adjust our safety protocols as we learn.

Alaska Air Group reports second quarter 2021 results

Alaska Air Group issued this financial statement for the second quarter:

Financial Results:

  • Reported net income for the second quarter of 2021 under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) of $397 million, or $3.15 per share, compared to a net loss of $214 million, or $1.74 per share in the second quarter of 2020.
  • Reported a net loss for the second quarter of 2021, excluding CARES Act Payroll Support Program (PSP) wage offsets, special items and mark-to-market fuel hedge accounting adjustments, of $38 million, or $0.30 per share, compared to an adjusted net loss of $439 million or $3.57 per share, in the second quarter of 2020.
  • Reported a debt-to-capitalization ratio, including short-term borrowings related to COVID-19, of 56%.
  • Held $4.0 billion in unrestricted cash and marketable securities as of June 30, 2021.
  • Generated $840 million in operating cash flow in the second quarter, inclusive of $489 million of PSP funding, bolstered by improved advance bookings on a surge in demand for air travel. Excluding PSP funding, quarterly operating cash flows improved over $580 million from the first quarter of 2021.

Operational Updates:

  • Announced plans to grow our mainline and regional fleets, exercising options for 13 Boeing 737-9 MAX with deliveries in 2023 and 2024, and nine E175 to be operated by Horizon Air with deliveries in 2022 and 2023. In addition, expanded our long-term capacity agreement with SkyWest Airlines by eight aircraft to be delivered in 2022.
  • Announced new service to Central America with new routes to Belize from Seattle and Los Angeles, with service slated to begin in November 2021.
  • Issued recall notices to all pilots on incentive lines for return to work by October 2021.
  • Continued our history of providing meaningful incentive programs to our employees with $67 million in cash bonuses earned to date.
  • Announced seven new domestic routes aimed at providing our West Coast guests more options to sun-filled destinations, including three new routes serving Boise, Idaho.

Liquidity Updates:

  • Received $664 million through a combination of grants and loans from the U.S. Treasury under an extension of the PSP.
  • Repaid approximately $570 million in debt, including the full $135 million loan from the U.S. Treasury made available under the CARES Act and the $363 million outstanding balance on two credit facilities.

Sustainability Updates:

  • Announced five-part pathway to achieve a net zero carbon footprint by 2040, putting the airline on track to meet the annual carbon intensity target that is part of its performance-based pay program for all employees.
  • First airline to implement network optimization software, Flyways, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to optimize air traffic and enable more fuel-efficient flight paths for aggregate savings of fuel, carbon emissions and time.
  • Partnered with Boeing to launch a 737-9 ecoDemonstrator to test advanced technologies that can enhance the safety and sustainability of air travel.  The aircraft will conduct five months of flight tests across the U.S.
  • Revealed “Our Commitment” aircraft in partnership with long-time partner UNCF, a symbol of the airline’s commitments to increase diverse representation in our leadership, advance education as a critical component of equity, and to make Alaska Airlines a place where everyone feels they belong.

Alaska Air Group Inc. today reported second quarter 2021 GAAP net income of $397 million, or $3.15 per share, compared to a net loss of $214 million, or $1.74 per share in the second quarter of 2020. Excluding the impact of payroll support program wage offsets, special items and mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments, the company reported an adjusted net loss of $38 million, or $0.30 per diluted share, compared to an adjusted net loss of $439 million, or $3.57 per diluted share in 2020.

“As we put the worst of last year’s downturn behind us, Alaska is back on the path to profitability,” said CEO Ben Minicucci. “We are executing our plan, rebuilding our network, leveraging our capacity to meet growing demand, and delivering exceptional service and value to our guests. I’m incredibly proud and grateful for how hard our employees are working and how they show up for each other and our guests every day with focus on safety, operational excellence and care.”

The following table reconciles the company’s reported GAAP net income (loss) per share (EPS) for the three and six months ended June 30, 2021 and 2020 to adjusted amounts.

Three Months Ended June 30,
2021 2020
(in millions, except per-share amounts) Dollars Diluted EPS Dollars Diluted EPS
GAAP net income (loss) per share $ 397 $ 3.15 $ (214) $ (1.74)
Payroll support program wage offset (503) (3.99) (362) (2.94)
Mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments (46) (0.37) (6) (0.05)
Special items – impairment charges and other (4) (0.03) 69 0.56
Special items – restructuring charges (23) (0.18)
Special items – merger-related costs 1 0.01
Income tax effect of reconciling items above 141 1.12 73 0.59
Non-GAAP adjusted net loss per share $ (38) $ (0.30) $ (439) $ (3.57)
Six Months Ended June 30,
2021 2020
(in millions, except per-share amounts) Dollars Diluted EPS Dollars Diluted EPS
GAAP net income (loss) per share $ 266 $ 2.12 $ (446) $ (3.62)
Payroll support program wage offset (914) (7.27) (362) (2.94)
Mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments (68) (0.54) 3 0.02
Special items – impairment charges and other 14 0.11 229 1.86
Special items – restructuring charges (12) (0.10)
Special items – merger-related costs 4 0.03
Income tax effect of reconciling items above 240 1.91 31 0.25
Non-GAAP adjusted net loss per share $ (474) $ (3.77) $ (541) $ (4.40)

Statistical data, as well as a reconciliation of the reported non-GAAP financial measures, can be found in the accompanying tables. A glossary of financial terms can be found on the last page of this release.

A conference call regarding the second quarter results will be streamed online at 8:30 a.m. PDT on July 22, 2021. It can be accessed at www.alaskaair.com/investors. For those unable to listen to the live broadcast, a replay will be available after the conclusion of the call.

References in this update to “Air Group,” “Company,” “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to Alaska Air Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries, unless otherwise specified.

This news release may contain forward-looking statements subject to the safe harbor protection provided by Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements relate to future events and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause actual outcomes to be materially different from those indicated by any forward-looking statements.  For a comprehensive discussion of potential risk factors, see Item 1A of the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020. Some of these risks include the risks associated with contagious illnesses and contagion, such as COVID-19, general economic conditions, increases in operating costs including fuel, competition, labor costs and relations, our indebtedness, inability to meet cost reduction goals, seasonal fluctuations in our financial results, an aircraft accident, and changes in laws and regulations. All of the forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by reference to the risk factors discussed therein. We operate in a continually changing business environment, and new risk factors emerge from time to time. Management cannot predict such new risk factors, nor can it assess the impact, if any, of such new risk factors on our business or events described in any forward-looking statements. We expressly disclaim any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements after the date of this report to conform them to actual results. Over time, our actual results, performance or achievements will likely differ from the anticipated results, performance, or achievements that are expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements, and such differences might be significant and materially adverse.

Alaska Airlines and its regional partners serve more than 120 destinations across the United States and to Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica. The airline emphasizes Next-Level Care for its guests, along with providing low fares, award-winning customer service and sustainability efforts. Alaska is a member of oneworld. With the global alliance and the airline’s additional partners, guests can travel to more than 1,000 destinations on more than 20 airlines while earning and redeeming miles on flights to locations around the world. Learn more about Alaska at newsroom.alaskaair.com and blog.alaskaair.com. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK).

CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS (unaudited)
Alaska Air Group, Inc.
Three Months Ended June 30, Six Months Ended June 30,
(in millions, except per-share amounts) 2021 2020 Change 2021 2020 Change
Operating Revenues:
Passenger revenue $ 1,352 $ 309 338 % $ 2,011 $ 1,790 12 %
Mileage Plan other revenue 118 73 <td style=”font-family: arial, verdana; BORDER-BOTTOM: 1pt; BORDER-LEFT

Horizon Air pilots pass vote to amend labor contract

Horizon Air pilots, represented by the Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224 (IBT), have voted to ratify a new wage agreement. IBT represents Horizon’s more than 800 pilots.

The agreement, which passed with 74% of the vote, includes competitive wage increases aimed to attract and retain pilots.

Airline employees are covered by the Railway Labor Act, so labor agreements do not expire; they become amendable and remain in effect until a new contract is ratified.

Horizon Air is a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group and flies to 63 cities across the United States, Canada and Mexico.