“At first we were just sort of shocked, you know, that the thing seemed to be unraveling. I would say we did flap around on [how best to move forward] for awhile before we sort of came to peace with exactly what our mentality was, what our mindset about the competition was and how we were going to respond” said Brad Tilden, Alaska’s CEO.
In an exclusive interview with the Puget Sound Business Journal (thanks to Leonard Kenny at Biz J for sharing) the airline said it decided to simply control what it could, making Alaska as great as possible:
“Competition is part of life in America,” Tilden said. “You can sort of begrudge it if you want to, but our viewpoint is that this has made this the greatest economy in the world and we’re going to use this competition to make Alaska the greatest airline in the world.”
“It is creating a competitive situation for us, and Alaska is very focused on how we respond to that competitive situation,” he said. “Our view is that Alaska is just hitting its stride. Competitive situation or not, we believe we have a very bright future for this company. It (the competition) has allowed us to put a lot of focus on our core competitiveness, our core customers.”
“For any customers, if they fly us a lot to all domestic destinations, and the occasional international trip as well, we sort of have them covered,” he said. “They can take that on American, or Delta, or British Airways and still add Alaska miles, even when they fly on international partner carriers.”
In a related Puget Sound Business Journal article, Delta’s Seattle Vice President Mike Medeiros commented on the competition:
“There doesn’t need to be a loser in this scenario. This is two carriers offering competition in a market that has been severely undeserved for many years.”
“We had conversations with Alaska over the years, about exclusivity on international routes,” Medeiros said. “We were looking to tighten that relationship, but that’s not something they were interested in doing. Since we had a good number of international flights, we decided to create a Seattle hub.”
“This doesn’t necessarily need to be a battle for Seattle, our growth is really on international, primarily in the Seattle region, which is the fastest-growing region of anywhere else in Delta. (Seattle) is the vital piece of our global network.”
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