Open main menu

Empire Airlines is a passenger and cargo airline based in Hayden, Idaho, near Coeur d'Alene.[2] It operates over 120 scheduled cargo flights a day in 18 US states and Canada. Recently Empire also started passenger service within Hawaii, under the name "Ohana by Hawaiian". Its main base is Coeur d'Alene Airport with a hub at Spokane International Airport.[3]

Empire Airlines
Empire Airlines Logo.jpg
IATA ICAO Callsign
AOC #COEA135A[1]
Fleet size56
Company slogan"We Can Do That"
HeadquartersHayden, Idaho, USA


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. 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 F-27 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 F-27. In 1993, Empire became a sustaining member of CASE (Coordinating Agency for Supplier Evaluation). From October 1993 to May 1994, it operated Fokker F27-500 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 F27 Friendships. In 1998, Empire started flying and maintaining Short 360 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. In 2004, the first ATR 42 put on Empire's certificate made the first ATR FedEx Feeder revenue flight. In 2005, Empire moved into new hangar and office building, in Hayden, Idaho, adjacent to the Couer d'Alene airport (COE). In 2013, Empire Airlines began drone flights under the name "Empire Unmanned", mainly serving agriculture and mining industries in the Western U.S.

'Ohana by Hawaiian passenger and all cargo freighter serviceEdit

In December 2012, it was announced that Empire would begin operating three ATR 42-500 series propjet aircraft acquired by Hawaiian Airlines on routes within the state of Hawaii.[4] The name and branding Empire Airlines will be flying for Hawaiian under contract is "'Ohana by Hawaiian".[5] '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 Honolulu (HNL), Molokai (MKK), Lanai (LNY), Kahului (OGG), Kona (KOA), and Hilo (ITO).

In 2015, Hawaiian Airlines announced new all cargo freighter service to be operated by Empire with ATR 72 turboprop aircraft on interisland routes in Hawaii[6]

Previous passenger serviceEdit

Empire operated scheduled passenger flights during the early 1990s in the Pacific Northwest with Fairchild F-27 and Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner turboprop aircraft. In 1993, the airline was serving Boise, ID (BOI), Coeur d'Alene, ID (COE), Lewiston, ID (LWS), Olympia, WA (OLM) and Spokane, WA (GEG).[7] Empire previously served Seattle (SEA) as well,[8] Initial scheduled service was between Boise and Coeur d'Alene, ID utilizing Cessna 441 Conquest II aircraft. Lewiston, ID was added as an enroute stop later, then the Swearingen Metro II came along. In May 1993, cities served were Boise, Lewiston, Coeur d'Alene, ID; Portland and Astoria, OR; Spokane, Pasco, Olympia, Seattle, and Hoquiam, WA. This was the third time Seattle has been served. Prior to Metros and Lewiston, Empire had served Seattle and Missoula with the Conquest II from COE.


As of January 2016, the Empire Airlines fleet includes the following aircraft:

Empire Air Fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Notes
ATR 42-300F 8
ATR 42-320F 3
ATR 42-500 4 Operated for Ohana by Hawaiian
ATR 72-212F 7 Three operated for Ohana by Hawaiian
Cessna 208B Super Cargomaster 35
Total 56

Previously operatedEdit

Empire Air has formerly operated the following aircraft:

Accidents and incidentsEdit

Reconstruction of the final minutes of Empire Flight 8284 (NTSB simulation)
  • December 24, 2005: An Empire Airlines Cessna 208B Caravan on a VFR cargo flight from Portland, Oregon to Roseburg, Oregon crashed shortly after takeoff in a golf course south of the Portland International Airport at 7:43 AM PT. The cause of the crash was determined to be a partial loss of engine power for an undetermined reason during the initial takeoff climb resulting in an in-flight collision with objects.[11]
  • 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.[12]


  1. ^ "Federal Aviation Administration - Airline Certificate Information - Detail View". Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  2. ^ "Contact Us Archived 2012-02-09 at the Wayback Machine." Empire Airlines. Retrieved on December 30, 2012. "11559 N Atlas Road Hayden, ID 83835"
  3. ^ "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 2007-04-03. p. 77.
  4. ^ "Hadden Watt to Manage Hawaiian Airlines Turboprop Operation" (Press release). December 26, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. Announces Plans to Expand Cargo Service with Purchase of Three ATR 72 Aircraft for 'Ohana by Hawaiian Interisland Network
  7. ^, Feb. 12, 1993 Empire Airlines system timetable
  8. ^, Jan. 16, 1990 Empire Airlines system route map
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ "National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Final Report" (Database with input and photos from the public). Aviation Safety Network: Database. Flight Safety Foundation. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  12. ^ CNN: FedEx plane crashes in Texas 27 January 2009

External linksEdit