Earlier this week in celebration of its 80th anniversary (NWA) of service and growing presence in Seattle, Delta Air Lines unveiled their Sprit of Seattle new Boeing 737-900ER aircraft at Boeing Field. The aircraft is “dedicated to the city of Seattle and the airline’s customers, employees and partners in the region.” Interestingly enough, Alaska Airlines has their own Spirit of Seattle decked in full Boeing colors.
The unveiling came less than a week after Delta once again added new routes directly in competition with partner Alaska Airlines. As noted in the previous post – Delta & Alaska – Best Frenemies? The Battle for Seattle, it’s been quite an interesting year for these two airlines. 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. Adam Levine-Weinberg at The Motley Fool reports that Delta has clearly changed their strategy and decided to follow a new playbook:
Once again, Delta is targeting core markets for Alaska Air, in a bid to become more self-sufficient in Seattle. Delta’s latest expansion of service in Seattle involves two more routes for which Alaska already offers frequent service. Most importantly, in June Delta will add five daily round-trips between Seattle and Vancouver, which is a short 125-mile hop currently served by Alaska and Air Canada. Delta will also add a daily seasonal flight from Seattle to Fairbanks next summer, breaking Alaska’s monopoly on that route. These new flights come on top of recent announcements of new or expanded service from Seattle to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, Portland, and Anchorage. (Delta is also adding long-haul flights to London, Seoul, and Hong Kong next year.) All in all, by next summer, Delta Air Lines will have added 31 new daily roundtrip flights to its Seattle schedule compared to its 2013 schedule. This is pretty impressive considering Delta currently offers only 35 peak-day departures from Seattle and offered just 44 during the summer peak season. Delta thus plans to grow its presence in Seattle by around 70% in the span of just a year. This will still leave it at just a fraction of Alaska Air’s size in the Seattle area, but as a much more serious competitor.
It’s also being reported that loyal Alaskan fliers have created their own Facebook support group to show their allegiance to the “true local carrier” and send the “carpetbagger from the east back home”. They also note Delta’s use of smaller CRJ and ERJ aircraft on several of the routes where Alaska currently utilizes Boeing 737 aircraft.
Update – Alaska has just announced an expansion from Delta’s hub at Salt Lake City (SLC)! From NYCAviation –
After just eight months of serving the Salt Lake City market from their home base of Seattle (SEA), Alaska Airlines Group has announced an expansion of their service from SLC to four west coast destinations. In June 2014, daily flights will commence to Portland (PDX), San Jose (SJC), San Diego (SAN), and Los Angeles (LAX). An additional flight to Seattle (SEA) is also being added, bringing the total number to three each day. Booking for these flights will be available beginning on December 10. The airline is commemorating this new service expansion by rewarding its Mileage Plan members with double mileage accrual on these selected routes. Alaska Airlines is known to have a modest status-level threshold relative to its competitors in the industry, so this is especially good news for their frequent fliers. To benefit from the promotion, membership must be effective by June 15, 2014. would be difficult not to notice the location of Alaska’s choice for service expansion and the statement that it presents to their codeshare partner, Delta Air Lines.