West Coast Airlines

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West Coast Airlines
Ceased operations1968
Operating basesSeattle, Washington
HubsSeattle, Washington
Focus citiesBoise, Idaho; Portland, Oregon; Spokane, Washington
HeadquartersSeattle, Washington

West Coast Airlines was an airline (then called a "local service" airline as defined by the federal Civil Aeronautics Board) linking small cities in the Pacific Northwest with larger cities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Montana, California and north to Alberta in Canada.[1] It was headquartered in the Westlake area of Seattle, Washington.[2]


West Coast was formed in 1941 and acquired Empire Air Lines (formerly Zimmerly Airlines) in 1952.[3][4] The company was based at Boeing Field in Seattle and began scheduled passenger service in 1946 with a fleet of Douglas DC-3s, marketed as Scenicliners.[5]

A promotional film produced for the company in the 1960s said that in 1946 the federal Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) granted the first regional airline certificate to West Coast Airlines as local service air carrier.

In July 1953 West Coast scheduled flights to 32 airports in Washington, Oregon and Idaho; in May 1968 it flew to 36 airports including 29 in those states. Like other Local Service airlines West Coast was subsidized; in 1962 its "revenues" included $6.6 million from passengers and $5.4 million for "mail".[6]

West Coast was the first local service airline in the U.S. to use turbine airliners when it began Fairchild F-27 flights in September 1958. The F-27 was the U.S. manufactured version of the Dutch built Fokker F27 Friendship. In June 1968 West Coast was the first airline to order Fairchild 228 twin jets with the acquisition of three planned, but the F-228, a smaller variant of the Dutch manufactured Fokker F28 Fellowship, never made it to production.[7] The only jet operated by West Coast was the Douglas DC-9-14 with 75 seats, all coach.

On July 1, 1968 West Coast merged with Pacific Air Lines and Bonanza Air Lines to form Air West, which became Hughes Airwest in 1970. In 1968 West Coast operated Douglas DC-9s, Fairchild F-27s, and Douglas DC-3s and Piper Navajos. The DC-3s were not transferred to Air West and were retired; the Navajos continued for a short time. The West Coast route system then included cities in Idaho, Oregon and Washington State and several in Montana. San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento in northern California were added in 1959 with Salt Lake City being served later. West Coast's only international destination was Calgary, Alberta which was served with F-27s from Spokane. Almost all West Coast flights at Seattle used Boeing Field (BFI) instead of Seattle/Tacoma International Airport (SEA); after the merger Air West and successor Hughes Airwest continued to use Boeing Field until DC-9 and F-27 flights moved to SEA in 1971.[8]


The April 28, 1968 West Coast timetable listed the following being served with DC-9s:[9]

  • Boise, ID
  • Eugene, OR
  • Medford, OR
  • Pasco, WA
  • Portland, OR
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA - Boeing Field
  • Spokane, WA
  • Walla Walla, WA
  • Yakima, WA

Other destinations saw Fairchild F-27s, Douglas DC-3s and/or Piper Navajos (or, in 1966, Piper Aztecs).

West Coast's lineage runs through a string of mergers: In 1980 Hughes Airwest was acquired by Republic Airlines which had been created by a merger of Southern Airways and North Central Airlines in 1979. In 1986 Republic Airlines was acquired by Northwest Airlines (formerly Northwest Orient Airlines). The Delta-Northwest merger with Delta Air Lines as the surviving air carrier was completed in 2010.

In 2001 an attempt was made to resurrect the West Coast Airlines name, with plans for an airline based in Concord, California, to connect several Northern California cities with Las Vegas, Reno and San Diego. The effort ended in bankruptcy.[10]

A Canadian commuter airline with a similar name, West Coast Air, currently operates floatplanes between Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.



West Coast Fairchild F-27

The West Coast Airlines fleet consisted of the following aircraft[12]:

Destinations in 1968[edit]

The April 28, 1968 West Coast timetable shows flights to:[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ West Coast Airlines routemap 1961
  2. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. April 13, 1967. 598.
  3. ^ Riddle, Arthur S. (September 28, 1952). "Empire notes 6th birthday with first of merger flights". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1.
  4. ^ Flight Global Archive article, March 1953
  5. ^ West Coast timetable 1950
  6. ^ Moody's Transportation Manual 1964
  7. ^ "What happened to the Fairchild 228?". AAHS Journal. Spring 1998.
  8. ^ One exception: in 1967 three Navajo flights a day did CLM-SEA-BFI-CLM.
  9. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, April 28, 1968 West Coast timetable
  10. ^ Ron Leuty (January 11, 2002). "Startup airline makes landing in bankruptcy". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
  11. ^ National Transportation Safety Board: Aircraft Accident Report. West Coast Airlines, Inc DC-9 N9101. Near Wemme, Oregon, Adopted: December 11, 1967
  12. ^ "West Coast Airlines". rzjets. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  13. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, April 28, 1968 West Coast timetable