Alaska Airlines has been fighting the heat from Delta Airlines in its hometown of Seattle. The two airlines used to be partners, but since last year, they ended their relationship. The fight did not end there, however. Alaska Airlines cut will cut ties with Aeromexico and Air France/KLM soon, as pressure from Delta mounts. In order to secure its place in Washington state as the “hometown airline” Alaska will start flights to Paine Field. Paine Field is better known as Everett, where Boeing has its aircraft manufacturing and assembly plant. Last year, it was announced that the airport would open up a new commercial terminal, and United and Alaska Airlines announced flights. Alaska Airlines Paine Field Routes will begin in September 2018.
As of now, the airline intends to fly to eight (8) destinations from the airport. These are Portland, San Diego, San Jose, Las Vegas, Orange County, San Francisco, Phoenix and Los Angeles. The airline will likely fly these routes with their ERJ-175 aircraft operated by their feeder partners.
How Many Flights?
The airline intends on operating 13 daily flights between Paine Field and those destinations. This is a major impact, given that they plan on moving 750 passengers PER DAY from the airport (assuming ¾ load factor). Although that doesn’t sound like much, it is a major commitment to the region. United will likely offer around 3-5 daily flights to Denver and SFO.
I think the rationale behind Alaska Airlines’ move is to appeal to a broader set of customers in Washington State. The airline may be able to poach away customers from Delta that fly into SeaTac. These passengers may live in the surrounding areas, and Paine Field is geographically closer. Also, Alaska may be looking to get passengers from Boeing’s mid-level management (ie fly on payroll, but not on private jets). These passengers probably commute to large cities, such as LA or NYC, and the convenience of Paine Field may justify the connection at any of the destination airports.
I think this is a wise gamble by Alaska Airlines. I don’t think the airline will move much of their traffic to Paine Field. The move, however, is more of an appeal to suggest that the airline is truly an in-state airline, and committed to the future of the state. I can see, in the very long run, however, the airline start a larger presence in the airport. I believe it will mimic in a much smaller scale airlines that have hubs in New York-JFK and at LaGuardia Airport. Time will tell how successful this venture is, and if other carriers decide to use the airport. (Southwest Airlines, anyone?)
What do you think? Is Alaska’s gamble going to be successful? Who are they targeting in this market? Are you planning on taking one of their flights? Let us know!