Awash in crimson and gray and packed with loyal Cougs, the newest Washington State University-themed Alaska Airlines jet will make its maiden voyage to Pullman on Saturday.
The brand new “Go Cougs” livery is featured on a modern Embraer E175 commercial jet operated by Alaska Airlines’ sister carrier Horizon Air. It flies passengers to their destinations faster and more quietly than the Q400 aircraft previously adorned with the university’s colors. Its debut coincides with Alaska Airlines becoming the official airline partner of WSU Athletics.
“The new Go Cougs aircraft celebrates the productive partnership between Washington State University and Alaska Airlines,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “We are proud to have Alaska Airlines as a continued supporter of our educational programs and research pursuits, particularly in the development and adoption of sustainable aviation fuels. Together, we will help transform the future of air travel across the state, region, and world.”
Among those aboard for Saturday’s flight will be WSU Provost, Executive Vice President and Pullman Chancellor Elizabeth Chilton, WSU Everett Chancellor Paul Pitre, Horizon Air President Joe Sprague and several notable Cougar alumni as well as Butch T. Cougar.
The WSU Marching Band will be at the airport welcoming the colorful, eye-catching plane to Pullman.
As part of the new partnership, Alaska Airlines plans to host a number of special gameday giveaways at WSU basketball and football games, which will include chances for fans to win tickets and air travel to this year’s Apple Cup on Nov. 25.
In addition to its support for Cougar Athletics, Alaska Airlines is a critical partner in the work WSU is doing around sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF. In 2015, Alaska partnered with the WSU-led Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance to produce and use SAF produced from tree limbs and branches collected after a forest harvest. Alaska later became the first airlines to fly a commercial flight powered by SAF fuel sourced from forest residuals and continues to fund WSU’s SAF research.
In 2022, WSU became an academic partner in the airline’s corporate SAFE program, which aims to foster education and raise awareness of opportunity to enhance the sustainability of business travel. The university also co-leads ASCENT, a consortium of research universities, government agencies, national laboratories and private groups working to make air travel more sustainable, among other goals. Such work is necessary if the nation’s aviation industry is to meet its goal of cutting life cycle greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
The airline on Friday also announced its new University of Washington-themed jet, which will be introduced Oct. 3 with a maiden commercial voyage from Seattle to Portland.