FAIRBANKS — Alaska Airlines plans to replace most of the jets it flies between Fairbanks and Anchorage with three turboprop planes, freeing up the jets to be used for new routes between Anchorage and the Lower 48.
Three Bombardier Q400 planes will mostly replace the Boeing 737 jets that now fly between Alaska’s two biggest cities, beginning next March, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. Q400s also will replace the 737 that flies to Kodiak from Anchorage twice daily from October through April.
The freed-up 737s will be used by Alaska Airlines for newly announced nonstop routes between Anchorage and Las Vegas and Anchorage and Phoenix.
The turboprops seat 76 people and have nearly the same travel time as the jet. They’ll be operated by Horizon Air employees but booked and marketed under Alaska Airlines.
Marilyn Romano, Alaska Airlines regional vice president, said passengers won’t notice much of a difference when the switch is made.
“These planes are really advanced and I think passengers are going to have a very nice travel experience,” she said.
The turboprops will be cheaper to operate than 737s and provide greater flexibility for the airline to fill schedule gaps and better cope with lower demand periods, she said. A goal behind the change “will be to ultimately look at lowering fares in Alaska,” she said.
Jet service will still be available for Fairbanks travelers on the route to Seattle, the seasonal flight to Portland and on one 737-400 combination cargo and passenger jet flying between Anchorage and Fairbanks.