UA744Flagship
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How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Wed Aug 07, 2002 10:28 pm

After spending some time in SEA, I was somewhat astounded by the breadth of Alaska and Horizon operations out of there.

Which begs the question I've always wondered... how is Alaska -a seemingly "boutique" carrier- so big? They have nigh over 100 aircraft. Just 50% more growth and they'll be the size TWA once was!

Anyhow, I ask the question out of sincerity. Seattle is not really a good geographic hub except for the Pacific Northwest. I understand AS has a lock on the US-Alaska market (would be shameful if it didn't) and also relies on all the economic traffic going from the PacNW... But is this enough to justify all their ops out of Seattle? I didn't think the O&D was that strong.

Does Alaska "trick" people into flying up to SEA to make a backwards connection? Geographically, SEA is the equivalent of MIA. And the #1 -by far- reason why MIA works is because of all the Latin America traffic. But SEA hardly serves as an international gateway... I know they have large novelty operations down to Mexico from all over the west, and some token western routes... but how exactly does AS make SEA work with so many flights?

Would it be safe to say that if AS didn't hub at SEA, someone else would? UA has always had sizeable ops there, with a current mini-hub... but would it have worked for a major?
no wire hangers!
 
kwbl
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RE: How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Thu Aug 08, 2002 12:05 am

Part of AS success is SEA is with the partnership of QX. Antoher part is that SEA is a very strong O & D market which has made AS profitable. I believe with the exception of connecting traffic between QX and AS, most of AS' traffic is O & D. The majors have not developed this market and AS took advantage.
 
Tom in NO
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RE: How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Thu Aug 08, 2002 12:08 am

SEA is in such an out-of the-way location that the only way it works as a hub is for either an Alaskan/US hub or for a Pacific Rim hub, which it is. The SEA market has traditionally been a strong O&D area with the strong marine and timber industries in that part of the country. Alaska Airlines has been strong in SEA for many years now, and it made sense for SEA to become their primary hub. Also remember that they've got a strong hub-like presence in PDX and the Bay Area.

As far as Mexico goes, it's not really a 'novelty' for them. They've got quite a number of routes down there, and multiple flights per day on those routes. The stricken flight 183(?) was a PVR-SFO flight.

I can't quote SEA's current international route system, but in years past, they've supported an SAS daily flight, numerous NWA Pacific Rim flights, I recall Thai at SEA, China Eastern, etc., so the demand is there.

I also wouldn't say that AS tricks people into an SEA connection. The only possibility for that might be the flights to the East Coast from either SoCal or Arizona. As for flights within the Pacific Northwest, they've got enough direct flights, and good enough connections at PDX and the Bay Area to cover that.

Alaska is a bigger player in the western US that people give them credit for. They've done their homework when it comes to airline and route expansion. And SEA is one of the more entertaining airports to spot at, plus that part of the country is just flat gorgeous.

Tom in NO (at MSY)
"The criminal ineptitude makes you furious"-Bruce Springsteen, after seeing firsthand the damage from Hurricane Katrina
 
FATFlyer
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RE: How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Thu Aug 08, 2002 12:30 am

Mexico started as a way to keep aircraft utilization up. Tourist traffic to Alaska drops off in winter, so capacity can be shifted to follow travellers to Mexico sunspots.

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." - Mark Twain
 
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EA CO AS
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RE: How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Thu Aug 08, 2002 1:12 am

AS has developed a "Seattle Strategy," which focuses on building up SEA even more than it currently is. The main goal is to offer more nonstop service out of SEA to more destinations than are currently served, hence the recent additions of BOS and DEN. Over time, expect more East Coast destinations to be offered as well.

AS also considers LAX to be a "focus city" as well, and is steadily building traffic there, too. Look for more service to the resort destinations in Mexico (particularly with an additional CUN flight and perhaps even adding CZM down the line), with the possibility of more longhauls to LAX from other lower 48 cities.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
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EA CO AS
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RE: How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Thu Aug 08, 2002 1:23 am

And the PVR-SFO-SEA flight in question was Alaska Airlines flight 261, lost on January 31, 2000.  Crying
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
searpqx
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RE: How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Thu Aug 08, 2002 1:41 am

Alaska's Mexico operations are no longer 'novelty' operations. Like FATFlyer said, they were started to help balance the seasonal loads, but since then, AS has grown the market to where they are the largest carrier to Mexico from the West Coast. Same with the west coast ops, AS is the largest west coast carrier (all three states).

As Tom said, SEA is a very strong O&D market, but you do have to look at the combined AS/QX networks to get a feel for the feed. You have four states and two Canadian provinces feeding into SEA for the connections south bound, and vice versa. The same thing happens in PDX, only on a smaller scale. On top of that, as any individual area in the network has the demand, AS or QX will introduce point-to-point service, i.e., BOI-LAX or Medford-LAX, etc. This actually helps control the growth at SEA-TAC where both AS and especially QX are facing some space contraints, and at the same time helps build brand loyalty.

Overall AS/QX have done an incredible job of managing their growth while responding and effectively competing against the low fare carriers.

"The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity"
 
UA744Flagship
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RE: How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Thu Aug 08, 2002 12:33 pm

Some good answers, but the level of Pacific Northwest traffic presence still begs the question:

Since the area has more flights in proportion to its population than most areas, do people in the Pacific Northwest, on average, fly more?
no wire hangers!
 
mhsieh
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RE: How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Thu Aug 08, 2002 2:17 pm

What's O & D??
Thanks
 
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BNE
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RE: How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Thu Aug 08, 2002 8:47 pm

O & D stands for Origin and Destination.
For a city of Seattles size about 3 milliion there must be plenty of people wanting to fly.
Why fly non stop when you can connect
 
United777
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RE: How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Fri Aug 09, 2002 1:37 pm

I think Seattle is one of the most underserved markets in the world.

I don't think alot of people see how big and inportant Seattle is becoming in the world and it is good to see Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air expand flights from it's hometown. United Airlines and Northwest Airlines also have a good market here in Seattle.
 
kdonohue
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RE: How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Fri Aug 09, 2002 1:47 pm

Yes, it is sometimes surpriusing to see Alaska with so many flights out of SEA. Alaska also has a very big presence up the road at YVR. They are the biggest (in terms of flights) US carrier in and out of YVR.

I quite enjoyed my $39 Alaska Air flight from SEA to SFO. What a bargain
 
soontobepilot
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RE: How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Fri Aug 09, 2002 1:58 pm

Please keep in mind that alaska is the main pipeline for northwesterners like me going to California. Alaska isn't exactly a supercarrier and doesn't use SEA as a hub like united does Denver of Ohare. If someone was flying IAD-Juneau, SEA is definately the best transition. It is mainly used as a pipeline to Alaska and as I said, california, as well as the already-mentioned mexico. But alaska DOESNT use SEA as an out-of-the-way hub, so you probably wouldn't fly DEN-LAX through SEA. You could take QX direct (I think). But I think alaska's main goal is to provide a good quality airline for people from washington and oregon in particular to get to where they are goeing, and I dont think it is meant to be as much for connecting flights all over the country. After all, thats what codesharing is for!!!
 
United777
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RE: How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Fri Aug 09, 2002 2:30 pm

Does anybody think the Los Angeles hub will be bigger than the Seattle and Portland hub soon?
 
chrisair
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RE: How Is Alaska So Large In Sea-Tac?

Fri Aug 09, 2002 5:12 pm

I doubt LA will grow much more just because of the lack of space. I can't imagine more flights out of T3...It's pretty crowded and smells worse than the AirTran concourse in Atlanta.

Seattle has a strong codeshare presence as well...Northwest takes you pretty much anywhere east, and west (Asia, HNL etc...) as does HA and American. People in the stix (ie Pasco) can get to Narita or pretty much anywhere else via Alaska and a codeshare partner, and get AS miles.

Right now, Horizon only runs RJ's from Eugene, Boise and Medford to Los Angeles. I don't think a LA-Denver flight is in the works. United has that route locked up pretty good, and Frontier has a good market share as well.