Western Pacific Airlines

Western Pacific Airlines, or WestPac, started scheduled passenger flights on April 28, 1995, with eight Boeing 737-300s. The low-cost airline was formed in 1994 under the name Commercial Air, changed to Western Pacific. Edward Gaylord of Gaylord Entertainment Company was involved in the formation and management of Western Pacific. Its headquarters were in unincorporated El Paso County, Colorado, near Colorado Springs.[1][2]

Western Pacific Airlines
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded1994 (as Commercial Air)
Commenced operationsApril 28, 1995
Ceased operationsFebruary 4, 1998
HubsColorado Springs Airport, Denver International Airport
SubsidiariesMountain Air Express
Fleet size15
HeadquartersColorado Springs, Colorado

Originally based at Colorado Springs Airport, Western Pacific routes were mainly west of the Mississippi River. Routes were extended to the eastern U.S. and on the west coast as new Boeing 737-300 aircraft were acquired. At one point the airline leased Boeing 727-200 jetliners as well. The airline declared bankruptcy in February 1998 and ceased operations.

Color in the SkyEdit

Boeing 737 advertising Sam's Town

The WestPac livery could be encountered in variations on the basic Western Pacific livery, but most aircraft were painted in logojet schemes. They included advertisements for:

The company also had other schemes with no corporate affiliations or advertising. They were:

  • Spring Fling Jet (N962WP)
  • “Beat the System” (N301AU)
  • Winter Wonder Plane
  • Super Summer Saver Jet (N962WP)
  • Future Logo Jet (N372US)

A marketing promotion with Rupert Murdoch’s American Fox network was broadcast nationwide in September 1995. During the episode, “Who Shot Mister Burns?” of The Simpsons, callers who phoned in with the correct answer won free air travel or other prizes.


Western Pacific was involved with the creation of a new commuter airline, Mountain Air Express (MAX), which began operations in 1996 flying Dornier 328 turboprops. MAX provided passenger feed for Western Pacific at Colorado Springs and later at Denver.

Earlier, Western Pacific had leased two (2) Boeing 727-200 jetliners from Express One International to initiate new service to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) during the airline's expansion in 1995.


In 1989 Denver announced that Denver International Airport would replace Stapleton International Airport. Since the airport was self-funded it would charge higher-than-normal landing fees to pay back the bonds. Denver International Airport was also twice as far from Denver as Stapleton International Airport. Shortly before the opening of the airport Continental Airlines shut down their Denver hub, leaving Denver as a hub for one carrier, United Airlines, whereas Stapleton had once been a hub for airlines like the original Frontier Airlines (1950-1986) and Western Airlines.

The effort was made to explore using a secondary airport as an airline's hub, taking Continental's place without incurring the high landing fees of Denver International Airport. Centennial Airport in Denver, Jeffco Airport in Broomfield and Colorado Springs Airport were considered, though Colorado Springs had been chosen as the hub for Western Pacific when the airline began.

While Western Pacific's Colorado Springs hub had initially been successful and was beginning to siphon traffic from Denver, by 1997 the airline had not made a profit in two years of operation. Colorado Springs Airport is south of the Denver metropolitan area, limiting its appeal to front range travelers from much the Denver area. Western Pacific executives decided to move the hub from Colorado Springs to Denver International Airport in 1997.[3]

A day after the move to Denver was completed, Western Pacific announced it would "purchase" the competing Denver-based Frontier Airlines which had acquired Continental's former gates at the Denver International Airport. The two carriers would immediately enter into a codesharing agreement with the Frontier flight schedule being secondary to Western Pacific's schedule. Western Pacific then shelved plans to expand their Colorado Springs hub.[4][5]

The merger process with Frontier then began. However, after Frontier gained access to Western Pacific's financial records as a part of the due diligence process, Frontier and their bankers then decided to no longer pursue this opportunity and the merger was abruptly canceled, leading to Western Pacific's bankruptcy and also nearly destroying Frontier in the process.[6][7]

Western Pacific declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy in February 1998. Frontier Airlines survived and currently operates a jet fleet that is approximately twice the size of the proposed combined Western Pacific-Frontier operation.


The airline served the following destinations in the U.S. during its existence:


Mountain Air Express (MAX) served the following destinations on behalf of Western Pacific via a codesharing agreement. MAX was a wholly owned subsidiary of Western Pacific and was created to provide passenger feed. This commuter airline operated Dornier 328 propjets.

  • Albuquerque, NM - ABQ
  • Aspen, CO - ASE
  • Casper, WY - CPR
  • Cheyenne, WY - CYS
  • Colorado Springs, CO - COS
  • Denver, CO - DEN
  • Grand Junction, CO - GJT
  • Gunnison, CO - GUC
  • Hayden/Steamboat Springs, CO - HDN
  • Kansas City, MO - MCI
  • Oklahoma City, OK - OKC
  • Salt Lake City, UT - SLC
  • Santa Fe, NM - SAF
  • Tulsa, OK - TUL


  • 1 - Boeing 727-200 - leased from Express One in order to facilitate new routes
  • 20 - Boeing 737-300 - main aircraft type in fleet
  • Boeing 737-700 - on order at the time of cessation of all scheduled service (these aircraft were never delivered)
  • 1 - Douglas DC-4 - operated by Commercial Airlines

Codeshare partner Mountain Air Express operated Dornier 328 turboprop aircraft.

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