Alaska Airlines Seeing Strong Benefits From Joining oneworld

Alaska Airlines joined oneworld less than seven months ago. Since then, the airline has been working hard at rolling out codeshares with various partners. Already, the airline has added nearly 200 incremental codeshare routes with just five oneworld partners, with more on the way. As long-haul international routes recovery, Alaska is already expressing incredible enthusiasm at the new customers it can now access.

Alaska Airlines Seeing Strong Benefits From Joining oneworld
Alaska Airlines is now the 14th member of the oneworld alliance, and it is seeing a lot of positive benefits. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines rolling out codeshares

Speaking on the airline’s third-quarter earnings call, Andrew Harrison, Alaska’s Chief Revenue Officer, stated the following on the new routes:

“So far in 2021, we’ve added 195 incremental codeshare routes with five oneworld partners, increasing our codeshare portfolio by 43%. This figure includes our recently announced agreements with Iberia and with Qatar. In very short order, we’ve seen Qatar become one of our top international partners as they efficiently connect our network with their nonstop services between Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles with their global hub in Doha. The Seattle-Doha nonstop, which was launched in January, has been especially strong.”

The oneworld alliance membership has given Alaska Airlines the ability to access even more international destinations. As mentioned above, this is mainly through the airline’s West Coast bases, where Alaska has the strongest network.

Greater access to corporate travel

The most significant benefit for Alaska is that it can access new corporate travel accounts thanks to its partnerships. While Alaska has pretty robust coverage to much of the United States, the airline did not have close relationships to leverage for international long-haul connectivity. This put it at a disadvantage for larger, multinational corporate travel.

Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines and American have been working on expanding their corporate contracts out of the West Coast. Photo: Getty Images

Since announcing it will join the oneworld alliance, American Airlines has been the leading oneworld airline on adding new flying to and from Alaska’s hubs. American has announced three new destinations: Bangalore, Shanghai, and London. Bangalore and Shanghai have not launched since Alaska joined the alliance, given the travel restrictions and limited corporate demand. Bangalore is a major tech hub in India, and there is plenty of demand from the major corporate hubs of San Francisco and Seattle to Bangalore.

Alaska Airlines Seeing Strong Benefits From Joining oneworld
Alaska’s codeshare partnership with American is much more extensive than other airlines. Photo: Getty Images

In addition, thanks to greater codeshares, Alaska can market more connections to Europe and Asia. This includes both business and leisure destinations. While a business traveler needs to go to a place like London or Zurich for work, using their miles to visit Venice or Athens on vacation is a net positive working in Alaska’s favor.

Managing the competitive environment

All of this makes Alaska a stronger competitor on the West Coast. With Delta Air Lines also offering a hub at Seattle, albeit not the same size as Alaska’s, Delta was able to market to customers its nonstop international access out of Seattle – something Alaska could not do until now. This is a way of Alaska fighting back in Seattle and asserting its dominance at home.

Even in other hubs, like San Francisco, where United dominates, Alaska is also making a push for travelers. It is focusing on some of the critical markets for business and leisure travelers out of San Francisco for now. However, there, and in other markets, expect Alaska also to start pushing toward more schedule depth to support convenient connections and the growth in customer numbers through the partnerships the airline has.