Air Transport World

Horizon refining management to hold northwest domination.

Horizon refining management to hold northwest domination Seattle--The lead headline in his company's unusual 1985 annual report pretty well sums up the style of Milton G. Kuolt II and the airline he heads: "Horizon's Chairman Says Let's Print an Annual Report People Will Pick Up and Read."

Strictly grammatical, it ain't. Practical and different, it is.

Decrying the glamour image of the airline business, the chairman of Horizon Air has applied some down-to-earth business principles learned through long experience in service-based businesses, to do something that many have failed at--start an airline and keep it running, often in the black, under the heat of deregulation. Milt Kuolt's basic philosophy has been: "It takes more than some airplanes and a compelling desire to fly to create a successful airline.

The Seattle-based regional has been a success story, growing to nearly $80 million in annual revenues in five years, despite some down times. Kuolt, who also answers to the titles of president and CEO, believes the success is due to a formula he applies to any service business: "Listen to the customer, treat the employes fairly, and be innovative...always do something to make it better; never stop being creative; never rest on your laurels."

The unique, and highly readable, newspaper-style annual report typifies the airline's personality: open, colorful, friendly. The chairman's report frankly discusses the problems that caused the airline's first truly bad loss last year--a record $9.1 million--including the ill-fated attempt to take over an ailing competitor, Cascade Airways.

In the report the airline also unselfconciously pats itelf on the back for those things management feels have been done right; and a page one headline promises that 1986 is the "Year to Get Better Not Bigger."

Despite the red ink on the 1985 balance sheet, there was a healthy, self-satisfied attitude at Horizon's corporate headquarters near Seattle's SEA-TAC Airport on Sept. 5, when the airline celebrated its fifth anniversary. The reasons for happiness were obvious.

In five years Horizon had grown from a three-plane, three-city infant with 70 employes into the country's fourth largest regional in terms of boardings and third largest in revenue passenger-miles, according to ATW 1985 statistics. With over 1,000 employes and nearly 300 flights a day, Horizon Air has been dubbed "the Northwest's most important airline." Thirty-five planes, ranging from 19-seat Metroliner IIIs to 60-place F28s, sport the brilliant red/orange Horizon sun logo and serve 27 cities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah and California.

Second-quarter earnings for the publicly held Horizon showed six-month total revenues of $39. …

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