Big news this morning from Alaska Airlines. The carrier plans to begin service to Charleston, Raleigh/Durham, and Nashville from its Seattle hub. Each of these cities, especially Raleigh/Durham, are big Delta markets and have historical service connections to Delta. According to Alaska’s press release, “Our loyal customers tell us they want new and exciting non-stop destinations, and we are listening,” said John Kirby, the airline’s vice president of capacity planning. “We’re pleased to be adding new non-stop service to three highly-requested business and leisure destinations not currently served nonstop from Seattle. Nonstop flights equate to shorter travel times and more convenience for our customers.” Here’s a summary of the new services, which begin this fall.

alaska airlines, new flights, rdu

Summary chart courtesy of Alaska Airlines

In an interesting tweak, no doubt aimed at Delta, the press release noted “By this fall, Seattle’s largest airline will serve 83 destinations from Seattle with 290 peak daily flights—two-and-a half times that of Alaska’s nearest competitor.” (emphasis mine)

While Alaska doesn’t have a natural history in these markets, their reputation for reliable and friendly service will likely serve them well as they expand. While Seattle-RDU probably makes the most sense to me from a financial perspective, one has to wonder just how much busier Seattle is going to get with the intense rivalry developing between Alaska and Delta. Interesting times in Seattle for sure. This could be fun to watch.

-MJ, April 28, 2015