Horizon Air to become Alaska Airlines

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The sun is setting on the Horizon Air brand.

Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Horizon Air, has announced it will retire the airline's public brand and replace it with that of Horizon's sister company Alaska Airlines.

Starting in February, travelers will begin to notice the transition through airport signage, advertising and the planes themselves, officials said.

The Bombardier Q400 planes that fly in and out of Walla Walla will be repainted with a new scheme that prominently features "Alaska" across the fuselage and the trademark Eskimo on the tail.

According to the announcement, the planes will continue to have Horizon's logo on the sides of the aircraft, but in Alaska's dark blue color.

The changeover is reportedly the latest step after a shift earlier this month to a new business model "that aligns more closely with the rest of the regional airline industry."

Starting Jan. 1, Horizon switched to a new business model with Alaska. Under the "capacity purchase agreement" model, Horizon operates and maintains its aircraft while Alaska covers scheduling, marketing and pricing of the flights. Horizon's existing markets, including Walla Walla's, will continue to receive service. The airline operates about 350 flights a day in 45 cities.

In a prepared statement, Horizon Air President Glenn Johnson said Tuesday the airline is committed to continuing the service for which it's known.

"While our livery is changing, many other important things won't," Johnson said.

He said Horizon will continue its onboard complimentary service of Northwest wine and microbrews for passengers 21 and older.

The airline will also continue to operate as a separate airline within the Alaska Air Group, keeping its flight crew and airport employee uniforms and ala cart planeside baggage service.

The brand change is not expected to have a direct effect on customers, officials said. Alaska spokeswoman Bobbi Eagan said the transition for the full fleet could take months. The first Q400 with the new look should be unveiled in February.

New Q400s being delivered to Horizon may fly without color until painting can be scheduled.

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