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Top Of The Props: The USA’s Main Airports For Turboprops

Turboprops often play a crucial role in global aviation, especially linking smaller communities and/or providing more flights (and therefore choice) than might otherwise be feasible. Yet they often go underappreciated and undervalued.

Horizon Dash 8
Seattle is the USA’s leading airport for turboprops and the world’s top airport for the Q400. Photo: Johnnyw3 via Wikimedia.

The USA’s leading airports for turboprops

In the seven days starting January 3rd, the US has over 5,600 non-stop flights by turboprops, according to data experts OAG. That’s approximately three in every 100 services touching the US. While that isn’t many per se, nearly half involve Alaska; imagine how things would be if not for aircraft suitable for the limited demand and airport infrastructure in that remote state.

However, Seattle is the USA’s single busiest airport for turboprops, despite only the Dash-8-Q400 being used across Alaska (Horizon), Air Canada (Jazz), and WestJet (Encore). The latter only inaugurated Seattle in November 2021.

  1. Seattle: an estimated 511 outbound non-stop turboprop flights across all operators
  2. San Juan: 448
  3. Boston: 283
  4. Anchorage: 266
  5. Bethel: 221
  6. Kahului: 216
  7. Molokai: 212
  8. Honolulu: 188
  9. Juneau: 170
  10. St Thomas Island: 164
Alaska Airlines' Seattle operation in early January
With 477 flights, Seattle and the Q400 is obviously nearly all about Alaska (Horizon). Source of data: OAG.

But, Seattle is even more important

Beyond being number-one in the US, Seattle is also the leading airport worldwide for Q400 flights, OAG shows. Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto Billy Bishop Toronto City, and Nairobi round out the top-five.

It’s a similar story if all large props (those over 50 seats) are considered, with Seattle first, ahead of Kuala Lumpur Subang, Vancouver, Calgary, and Auckland. However, if every type is considered, the Washington State airport falls to fourth-busiest globally in this January week, behind Belize City, Vancouver, and Kathmandu.

Horizon Air Dash-8-Q400
Horizon Air has 32 Q400s, each with 76 seats. Photo: Alaska Airlines.

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Up to 79 daily Q400 departures from Seattle

Seattle has between 67 and 79 Q400 departures a day in the examined week. The 127-mile (205km) link to Vancouver has the most flights. While Air Canada has marginally more services, in any other week it’d have the same as Alaska with 28 services apiece. Going to Canada, the airport-pair typically has a sub-60-minute block time, with a flight time of around 35 minutes.

Alaska Airlines' Q400 routes from Seattle
These Seattle routes will all see Alaska’s Q400s in the week starting January 3rd. Image: GCMap.

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The Q400 operates 28 routes for Alaska

Seattle to Portland, Alaska’s second-busiest hub, sees more Alaska Q400s than any other route, as shown below in order of flights. At just 76 miles (150km), Bellingham (BLI) is the shortest Q400 route, while the longest – 749 miles, 1,205km – is Fresno (FAT). However, Fresno has just two weekly Q400 flights (both on January 3rd), replacing the more commonplace Embraer 175.

  1. Portland (PDX)
  2. Spokane (GEG)
  3. Pasco (PSC)
  4. Boise (BOI)
  5. Medford (MFR)
  6. Boise (BLI)
  7. Redmond (RDM)
  8. Vancouver (YVR)
  9. Eugene (EUG)
  10. Missoula (MSO)

Alaska has scheduled just one Q400 flight to Calgary and it too will operate on January 3rd. While the Q400 is renowned for its fast speed, the block time to Calgary is nine minutes longer than the E175, but interestingly two minutes quicker on the way back.

What is your best memory or experience of flying a turboprop in the US? Let us know in the comments.

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