Paris Air Show
9:34 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Small Plane, Big Issue In Fairbanks

This week’s Paris Air Show is all about big planes, but a small deal announced this week is gaining attention.

Bombardier Inc. announced Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines, will buy three of the manufacturer's Q400 NextGen planes. Alaska Airlines is buying more Q400s so it can expand turbo-prop service. The airline recently announced the first route in Alaska – from Fairbanks to Anchorage – where Q400s will replace a Boeing 737 jet.

Fairbanks residents showed their displeasure by complaining on social media: a turbo-prop means no comfortable jetway from the terminal. Instead, it means walking across a freezing tarmac, in the second-largest city in Alaska. 

“There are a lot of problems I think with being outside in very cold temperatures – 30,40, 50 below," said Jill Neff of Fairbanks, who spoke up on Alaska Airline’s Facebook page.“They’re not a comfortable plane, they’re not designed to me for passenger comfort in any way and I think it’s a downgrade in service to the customers flying between Fairbanks and Anchorage."

But Alaska Airlines says the 737 wasn’t always full, and going to smaller planes may produce savings that can be passed on to customers.

The Bombardier Q400 will begin service in March of next year.