Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden was not kidding when he said that the coronavirus pandemic was an opportunity for the carrier to focus its route map “around what we do best.”
The Seattle-based carrier plans to add another six routes between its California bases in San Diego (SAN), San Francisco (SFO) and San Jose (SJC) and destinations in Montana and the Pacific Northwest, according to Cirium schedules and confirmed by Alaska spokesperson Ray Lane. The routes, schedule to begin this fall and run through March, are in addition to Alaska’s previously planned eight-route expansion in Los Angeles (LAX).
The new routes will, as Tilden put it on July 23, shift more of Alaska’s jets onto routes in the market that they “do best.” That is, routes from its strongholds in California and the Pacific Northwest.
Alaska’s latest additions come on the following routes, all of which will be flown with 76-seat Embraer E175s:
- San Diego – Missoula, Montana (MSO): Daily from March 11, 2021
- San Francisco – Boise (BOI): Twice daily from Sept. 1 (competes with United Airlines)
- San Francisco – Missoula: Daily from March 11, 2021 (competes with United)
- San Jose – Missoula: Daily from March 11, 2021
- San Jose – Spokane, Washington (GEG): Daily from Sept. 1 (competes with Southwest Airlines)
- San Jose – Redmond/Bend, Oregon (RDM): Daily from March 1, 2021
Tickets for all of the routes are already on sale on Alaska’s website.
Like other carriers, Alaska saw the recovery in air travel stall at the beginning of July as COVID-19 cases rose and travel restrictions were instituted across the U.S. As a result, the airline plans to fly just half of what it flew a year ago during the three months ending in September.
In addition, Tilden has warned that Alaska may need around 7,000 fewer employees — or about 30% of its 23,000-person workforce — by the end of the year. Notices of possible furloughs or layoffs could go out to staff by Aug. 1.
Alaska anticipates being about 20% smaller next summer compared to 2019, executives have said. It expects a roughly two-year recovery in U.S. domestic travel from the pandemic.
“We’re planning for our business to be smaller for the foreseeable future,” says Alaska CEO Tilden.
Expects capacity will be down ~35% yoy in October, and ~20% in summer 2021 compared to 2019. $ALK
— Edward Russell (@byerussell) July 23, 2020
The airline’s outlook is rosier than that of global aviation body the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The organization delayed the anticipated air travel recovery by a year to 2024 in its latest forecast that was released on July 28.
In addition to the Alaska’s routes, the carrier is in the process of joining the Oneworld alliance — possibly by the end of the year.
Alaska’s membership in Oneworld is part of its renewed partnership with American Airlines. The airlines are codesharing on flights primarily along the West Coast, with American adding new long-haul flights from Alaska’s Seattle (SEA) hub in 2021.
Featured image courtesy of Alaska Airlines.