BREAKING NEWS: Alaska Airlines Plans To Join Oneworld

THIS IS HUGE NEWS!!!

It was announced today that Alaska Airlines and American Airlines are putting aside their differences and partnering up as Seattle-based Alaska intends to join Oneworld by mid-2021.

This is big news for American Airlines as they’ve been on the struggle bus as of late.

This move by Alaska Airlines is in stark contrast to their partnership model of neutrality they’ve held for years, one in which it preferred lots of individual airline relationships rather than joining one of the major alliances.

A few months ago, I wrote about how Alaska and American had chosen to go their separate ways and end a number of reciprocal frequent-flyer benefits but they appear to have rekindled their relationship comes after the airlines looked set to go their separate ways.

MY INITIAL THOUGHTS…DELTA!

Alaska Airlines used to, more or less, dominate the Seattle market, though over the past few years Delta has grown a significant presence at SEA-TAC airport. This has put a lot of pressure on Alaska.

While Delta seems to be focusing on joint ventures rather than alliances (despite being in SkyTeam alliance), I suspect this is partly a response to Delta’s continued growth in Seattle.

While American and Alaska have tried to scale back their partnership, it seems they have both realized that they’re better off working together, rather than against one another, to compete with Delta.

Additionally, just a few months ago, Delta stole Americans long-time South American partner LATAM directly from under their nose and has started to build a focus city at Americans’ Miami hub. #BoldMove

THIS IS GOING TO GET DICEY

I love Alaska Airlines’ loyalty program. It’s, perhaps, my favorite loyalty program in the US. However, mark my words, there’s going to be a major shake-up.

Alaska, at least for the time being, plans to maintain its relationships with unaligned partners however here is a list of Alaska Airlines’ independent partners:

  • Aer Lingus (Oneworld)
  • American Airlines (Oneworld)
  • British Airways (Oneworld)
  • Cathay Pacific (Oneworld)
  • Condor
  • El Al
  • Emirates*
  • Fiji Airways (Oneworld)
  • Finnair (Oneworld)
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Icelandair
  • Japan Airlines (Oneworld)
  • Korean Air (SkyTeam)
  • LATAM Airlines (SkyTeam)
  • PenAir
  • Qantas (Oneworld)
  • Ravn
  • Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance)

There is somewhat of a conflict with the bolded airlines. For example, Alaska parters with Korean and LATAM but both of those airlines are in SkyTeam (with Delta). The partnership may’ve been cool as long as Alaska was “independent” but this may create some tension.

Additionally, you can redeem you American Airlines AAdvantage miles on Qatar and Etihad. So what happens with the Alaskas partnership with Emirates? Does that mean that all three Middle East carriers will be in one “partnership?”

FINAL STAMP

This is a major break for both, American Airlines and Oneworld! Oneworld will have, not one, but two domestic US airlines which is a feat that no one else has ever pulled off. However, I’m unsure of how this is going to work out in the long term.

On one hand, Alaska Airlines’ award chart is probably one of the best in the world and I love their independent partnerships but I fear a devaluation is on the horizon.

On the other hand…American Airlines is…well, American Airlines. I think it’s evident where they stand with most of the American population.

Recognizing that the Alaska fleet is comprised of Airbus A320’s and Boeing 737’s, they are limited to flying domestically. This aspect has made it difficult for Alaska to land travel contracts from large tech companies, like Amazon and Microsoft, because they (Alaska) don’t have the international connectivity.

In other words, Alaska needs American and American needs Alaska.

It’s worth noting that in this announcement, they also included two new routes:

  • Seattle (SEA) – Bangalore (BLR): Daily service on a 787-9 operated by American beginning in October
  • Seattle (SEA) – London (LHR) Daily service on a Boeing 777 operated by American in March 2021

What do you make of this development? I bet you didn’t think the airline industry was this juicy, did you!? 🤣

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