What a difference a year makes! The future seemed so bright last October when Delta announced their huge Seattle build-up and expanded Alaska Airlines partnership. Delta planned to dramatically increase their international flight schedule from Seattle, while partner Alaska would be key in feeding the flights with traffic from their strong domestic hub. Both airlines also announced reciprocal frequent flier mileage earning and elite benefits.
Fast forward to last week’s earnings call when Delta CEO, Richard Anderson, announced “we are building Seattle as a West Coast gateway to Asia & Europe” and that by mid-2014 Delta plans to fly to nine international destinations from Seattle including Amsterdam, Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Osaka, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai, and Tokyo. Delta also reiterated their plans to grow their own domestic feed, taking on some of Alaska’s core routes as they continue to build up the hub:
Delta said this month it will add six daily Seattle-San Francisco flights starting in March, with a seventh flight to be added in June. It will add two daily Seattle-Las Vegas flights in January, with two more in April, bringing the total to five. It will add two daily Seattle-Los Angeles flights in June, bringing the total to seven. Delta’s planned new routes target critically important routes for Alaska, which already has 12 daily Seattle-Los Angeles routes, eight daily Seattle-San Francisco routes and nine daily Seattle-Las Vegas routes.
Adding fuel to the friendship fallout, The Street reported that:
Two weeks ago, Delta Ground Services said it will discontinue agreements to provide ground service for Alaska at 13 stations, six cargo offices and various de-icing locations, a move first reported by AirlineReporter.com.”Delta notified us last Friday that it has elected to discontinue these service agreements with Alaska Airlines effective March 31, 2014.” “We have been considering a change … for some time now. (This) simply speeds up the transition we’d been planning.”
To promote the new routes, Delta announced it would offer double miles on the new domestic Seattle flights through Oct. 31, 2014, while Alaska responded with double elite qualifying miles between Seattle and five California destinations, plus Las Vegas, through May 31, 2014. “With 62 flights a day between California and Seattle, earning miles and elite status in our award-winning mileage plan is easier and faster with Alaska Airlines than any other carrier,” said Caroline Boren, managing director of loyalty marketing and customer advocacy, in a prepared statement.
Check out the full frenemy situation over at The Street.