Empire Airlines

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For the defunct passenger airline from the 1940s, see Empires Airlines. For the defunct passenger airline from the 1970s and 1980s, see Empire Airlines (1976-1985).
Empire Airlines
Founded 1977
Fleet size 51
Company slogan "We Can Do That"
Headquarters Hayden, Idaho, USA
Website empireairlines.com

Empire Airlines is a passenger and cargo airline based in Hayden, Idaho, near Coeur d'Alene.[1] It operates over 120 scheduled cargo flights a day in 18 US states and Canada. Recently Empire also started passenger service within Hawaii. Its main base is Coeur d'Alene Airport with a hub at Spokane International Airport.[2]


Empire Airlines was established and started operations in May 1977 in Orofino as a charter company. Originally named Clearwater Flying Service (thus the CFS identifier for its flights), it was purchased by Nick Chenoweth and Vick Walters on April 12. Soon thereafter, a third partner, Mel Spelde joined as a flight instructor. Clearwater Flying Service made a living doing several different things including, fire patrol, transporting outfitters into the backcountry, air ambulance, air pollution monitoring, charters and flight instruction.

Empire ATR 42 in FedEx Feeder livery

On November 1, 1980, Empire Airlines purchased West Aire, Inc. at Coeur d'Alene and expanded business to include aircraft sales and maintenance. In 1981 Empire purchased Executive Aviation in Missoula, Montana and leased Twin Otter aircraft for United States Forest Service smoke jumping contracts. In December 1983 and January 1984, Empire was awarded government contracts to transport people and materiel in Grenada, following the conflict. On January 3, 1984, Empire began passenger service from Coeur d'Alene to Boise, and later added Lewiston as a stop, using Metro Liner aircraft. In the mid-1980s, Empire received contracts from several places including, a Colorado ski destination, Hughes Aircraft, and Naval Arctic Research Laboratory. In 1988 Empire signed a FedEx Express contract to fly and maintain Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft out of Portland and Spokane; Seattle was added in September. In 1989 Empire became a FAR 121 operator after the purchase of Pacific Alaska and two Fairchild F27 aircraft. In August Empire started F27 services for FedEx Express.

In 1990, Empire added more cargo routes and performed its first heavy maintenance check on a Fairchild F27. In 1993, Empire became a sustaining member of CASE (Coordinating Agency for Supplier Evaluation). From October 1993 to May 1994, it operated F27 aircraft in Hawaii on behalf of Mahalo Air, while the latter airline was awaiting its own operating certificate. In 1995, Empire moved corporate offices and ended passenger services, focusing on cargo, maintenance and airline startups. Empire began sending technical reps to Conair during heavy maintenance checks on Fokker F27s. In 1998, Empire started flying and maintaining Shorts SD360 aircraft. Empire entered into a partnership agreement to begin Express Air serving FedEx in Europe.

In 2001, Empire received Repair Station certificate. In 2002, Empire purchased Reliant Logistics as a wholly owned subsidiary. In 2003, The first ATR 42 aircraft arrived in Spokane for cargo conversion. BOD accept Idaho's proposal for new hangar and office at the Coeur d'Alene Airport. In 2004, the first ATR 42 put on Empire's certificate made the first ATR FedEx Feeder revenue flight. Empire moved into new hangar and office building, in Hayden, Idaho.

'Ohana by Hawaiian[edit]

In December 2012, it was announced that Empire would begin operating two ATR 42-500 series aircraft acquired by Hawaiian Airlines doing business as Empire Airlines on routes within the state of Hawaii.[3] The name and branding Empire Airlines will be flying for Hawaiian under contract is "'Ohana by Hawaiian." [4] 'Ohana by Hawaiian launched initial service to Molokai Airport (MKK) on March 11, 2014, and the Lana'i Airport on March 18, 2014. 'Ohana by Hawaiian currently operates daily scheduled flights between HNL, MKK, LNY, OGG, KOA, and ITO.


The Empire Airlines fleet includes the following aircraft (at March 2007):[2]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • October 9, 2000: Flight 665, a Cessna 208 Caravan on a VFR cargo flight from Bellingham to Orcas Island crashed on Lummi Island. The pilot onboard was killed. The cause of the crash was determined to be the pilot flying into adverse weather and not maintaining proper terrain clearance.[6]
Reconstruction of the final minutes of Empire Flight 8284 (NTSB simulation)
  • On 27 January 2009, Flight 8284, an ATR-42-320 cargo plane under contract from FedEx Express crashed on landing at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport at 04:37 CT. The plane, which had been traveling from Fort Worth Alliance Airport, landed short of the touchdown zone and skidded off the runway amid light freezing rain. There was a small fire on the plane and two crew members were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.[7]


  1. ^ "Contact Us." Empire Airlines. Retrieved on December 30, 2012. "11559 N Atlas Road Hayden, ID 83835"
  2. ^ a b "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 2007-04-03. p. 77. 
  3. ^ "Hadden Watt to Manage Hawaiian Airlines Turboprop Operation" (Press release). December 26, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.hawaiianairlines.com/ohana/Pages/index.aspx?hacmp=Facebook_ohana-landing_20130212
  5. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Cessna 208B Caravan I Super Cargomaster N746FE Flagstaff, AZ" (Database with input and photos from the public). Aviation Safety Network: Database. Flight Safety Foundation. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Cessna 208B Caravan I Super Cargomaster N941FE Lummi Island, WA" (Database with input and photos from the public). Aviation Safety Network: Database. Flight Safety Foundation. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  7. ^ CNN: FedEx plane crashes in Texas 27 January 2009

External links[edit]