Southwest Places their Focus on Cali as Alaska is Pulling Back

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Alaska Airlines is Reducing Operations in California

Alaska Airlines is Reducing Operations in California

Johnny C. in our Miles to Memories Facebook group shared an interesting article from SF Gate that discusses Alaska Airlines future plans in California.

On the heels of Southwest announcing that they are giving away millions of points to California residents(again); Alaska Airlines has announced that they are cutting back their flights up and down the Golden Coast.

It is interesting to see what one airline thinks of as a market worth expanding in another one deems a less profitable venture.  A lot of these routes came from their Virgin America purchase.

RELATED: BOA Offering 5,000 miles for Alaska Airlines credit card referrals.

Alaska Airlines is Reducing Operations in California

Routes that Will be Affected

Here are the following routes that Alaska Airlines is making changes to:

San Francisco (SFO) 
  • Non stop service to Cancun ended on March 3rd
  • Non stop service to O’hare has been slashed to once per day each way
  • Minneapolis, Fort Lauderdale, and Mexico City will be eliminated after May 19th
  • Denver will be eliminated after June 5th
Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Non stop service to Havana and Cancun ended in January 2018
  • Non stop service to Orlando will end after July 5th
San Diego (IATA)
  • Flights to Mexico City will be eliminated after May 19th

Alaska has said that anyone who is already booked on these routes will now be moved to a flight that reroutes through their Seattle hub.  It is unclear if fee free cancellations will be allowed with these changes.

What I find interesting is that the biggest cuts came in San Francisco, which is where Alaska has made a push to grow in recent years.  They added four new destinations out of SFO in the past 24 months.  And they launched a massive marketing campaign in attempt to gain market share in the area and maintain the loyal Virgin America flyers in the area.  I guess this is a sign that those efforts didn’t work.

Conclusion

Less competition is always a negative for the consumer. It does sound like these routes were limited to once or twice per day.  That would have had them missing out on the business travelers that needed flexibility on the routes, especially to Chicago.

I find it interesting that others are making a push to grow in Cali while it feels like Alaska is throwing in the towel a little bit.  Alaska Airlines says this move will increase their efficiency and direct those planes to routes with higher demand.

 

What do you think?  Is this a bad move on Alaska’s part?

 

 


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13 COMMENTS

  1. The direct to Mexico City from San Diego flight is probably facing increased competition from Tijuana. TIJ has 14 daily non-stops from Mexico City (many under $75 each way) and it is super easy access to the Tijuana airport from San Diego via the CBS cross-border terminal. Park in on the San Diego side of the border, take a bridge over the wall, clear customs and walk right into the terminal.

  2. I’m not really sure “throwing in the towel” is the correct phrase. They did grow very rapidly in CA adding routes that were not served by Virgin America and some were bound to not be as successful as they’d hope and this is their reaction to that. Their presence in San Jose has increased a lot and there seems to be no cuts from there. Their San Diego operations is also significant and only saw MEX cut. I think this is healthy in the long run because they can use those equipment on other routes.

    • Throwing in the towel may have been too strong. It seems like SFO was the most targeted area…it will be interesting to see if they continue to lessen their routes there or if they simply cut unprofitable routes.

      • Hopefully they’re only cutting unprofitable routes. They’re facing a strong response from United in SFO and from Southwest in San Jose but it looks like they’re holding strong in San Jose.

    • I link to their California promotion, giving away millions of points to residents, which shows a desire to increase business in California. This is the second time they have run the promotion, as well as the companion pass offer where you get it after one purchase for California residents. Then the addition of Hawaii flights coming this year out of California. It has been obvious that California is a desired area of growth for them.

  3. Did they cut thee 4 routes they started in SFO in the past two years, or are the (domestic) routes being eliminated different?

    Either way I think it bodes ill for long-term AS use at least for me. I’m looking to move to AS from AA and while Alaska is good for us when we travel on the west coast, it’s really inconvenient to fly all the way to Seattle to then begin flying east. I was hoping (expecting, really) to see them expand more directs eastward from LA, SD, and PHX but maybe that won’t be the case, and that can’t be good for their competitive profile.

    • Different routes were added – Raleigh-Durham, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Kansas City

      Those seem like much less desirable routes than what they are pulling out from but maybe there is less competition there?

      I was thinking along the same lines. I thought they would continue to add routes with the merger…maybe they will once things settle down.

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