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Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:18 am

Seeing as Alaska has recently been moving somewhat away from relying completely on partners for access to East Coast traffic flows, would Alaska and Horizon ever take the next step and open a focus city east of the Mississippi? I'm not thinking something big here, less than 15 daily AS mainline departures and 6-12 AS Q400s based there. Candidates include: RDU, STL, CMH, and PIT.

Thoughts?
 
PHX787
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:30 am

CMH.....ehhhh I don't know....

PIT..... well yeah lots of room to expand....

Well of course you expected this- if DL continues to cut at CVG and AS wants an eastern focus city, why not at CVG?
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F9Animal
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:40 am

Why? The east coast is well saturated already. AS has a system that is working very well. I highly doubt it would happen.
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usdcaguy
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:57 am

I would say that if other carriers are slow to pick up the slack left by US, there could be some opportunity in PIT for QX. However, apart from a few domestic business markets, I don't see a lot of opportunity for them there. MCI has been tried by many carriers (YX/F9, to a large extent WN), but I don't see much opportunity there either. STL is pretty much covered by WN, and AA dismantled the old TW hub there because they couldn't make it work. If you want to expand out East, the challenge would be to give East Coast passengers a way to get up and down the East Coast; a merger with US would solve that problem, but we all know where that is going. I would say CMH is the best bet; the area is strong economically and yet there is no one big player there.
 
Passedv1
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:01 am

"ever" is a long time. Alaska management wants to keep growing ASM's at 6-8% annually, and eventually will run out of places to go under the current strategies...so will they "ever" establish an East Coast hub/focus city...probably...in the next 10 years...my guess would be not.

Alaska management has been hinting their next move, much like they did before they announced Hawaii, of moving at markets south of Mexico. Guatemala, Belize, Panama...something like that probably.

Alaska shows investors/employees a "hypothetical route map" showing all of the "potential" routes Alaska could fly to. It's basically every US city of appreciable size, connected to SEA, PDX, the Bay, the LA basin, and SAN. There is also a special line that is always highlighted pointing South of Mexico. There is no hint of any hub/focus city that is not on the west coast.
 
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RWA380
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:43 am

Quoting PHX787 (Reply 1):
Well of course you expected this- if DL continues to cut at CVG and AS wants an eastern focus city, why not at CVG?

If it did ever happen, I'd expect it to be CVG, but really? No way, AS management would not allow AS to follow in the steps of an Alaskan carrier from the past, Markair... they expanded all over the lower 48 with a Chicago MDW hub for a quick minute, it killed BF, AS's lock

Check these route maps over a course of 4 years and their expansion:

06/08/91 - http://www.departedflights.com/BF060891.html

09/07/93 - http://www.departedflights.com/BF090793.html

01/02/95 - http://www.departedflights.com/BF010295.html
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delta2ual
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:34 pm

Quoting RWA380 (Reply 5):
Markair... they expanded all over the lower 48 with a Chicago MDW hub for a quick minute

I was an FA for MarkAir and we never had a "hub" at MDW. Our hub was at DEN; that is what did us in. MarkAir was quite successful in Alaska until that point (Our slogan was "Alaska is our home".)
The operation at MDW was an agreement with a commuter/regional (I forget which). It was not mainline.
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threeifbyair
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:01 pm

Any Midwest or East hub would be a massive departure from AAGs current strategy. Don't think it is likely.

PIT would be a loser from the beginning unless the ACAA gave AS a huge break on airport charges. Regardless, short-haul ex-PIT is not a great business. B6 couldn't make PIT-JFK work and is pulling out next month. WN dropped PIT-PHL after fierce competition from US.
 
SonomaFlyer
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:09 pm

AS will focus their efforts out west and into Latin America. There is no need to take silly risks expanding into a saturated market. Part of the reason this airline is so successful is that they don't take foolish risks.
 
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GSPFlyer
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:05 am

If they did try this, I think they would be looking to move East-West pax to begin with, since they already have the customer base in the West. I don't think you would find any AS Frequent Flyers in GSP, let alone one trying to go somewhere up North, like BOS. I'm sure they have loads of FF's in places like PDX, LAX, SEA, or even SFO, and they could try connecting these pax on their own metal to smaller Eastern destinations, like RDU, BNA, MSY, PHL, etc.

To do this, they would first want to establish a focus city somewhere West of the Rocky Mountains, and East of (or near) the Mississippi river. This would be in a city that isn't any airlines hub, or that an airline is in the process of pulling down. My ideas are:

AUS-No hub is established, similar sized metro area to BNA, CLT. The downside is that it isn't in a great position for connections to the Northeast from places like SEA, PDX.

SAT-Larger than AUS, but has the same downside.

MCI-Good geographically, but (from what I have heard) has a bad terminal layout for connecting flights.

CVG-A little farther to the East than the most ideal location, but it could work. No secret that DL is pulling down their hub.

STL-Good location. I think the reason AA couldn't make it work was because of their hub at ORD, right up the road. Downside is that WN has been trying to take it over.

MKE-A little far to the North, but would still be good for connections to/from the Pacific Northwest.

MEM-Not the best location for connections to/from SEA/PDX to all of the East Coast, but not the worst either. DL has been reducing flights there.

While places like PIT, RDU could make good east coast hubs, they wouldn't be the best to expand to unless a large customer base on the east coast has been established.

All being an "armchair CEO" aside, their current model seems to be working well for them, so I don't see much changing. AS FF's will probably continue to fly east on DL and AA for years to come.
 
HSVflier
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:16 am

I always felt that BNA would be a good fit for Alaska for something like this.
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727LOVER
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:29 am

Didnt AS fly LAX-YYZ for about as long as it took to type this?
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PHX787
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:19 am

Using your formula, GSPFlyer, Let me put some input:

Quoting GSPflyer (Reply 9):
CVG-A little farther to the East than the most ideal location, but it could work. No secret that DL is pulling down their hub.

STL-Good location. I think the reason AA couldn't make it work was because of their hub at ORD, right up the road. Downside is that WN has been trying to take it over.
Quoting HSVflier (Reply 10):
I always felt that BNA would be a good fit for Alaska for something like this.

I see all 3 of those (ignoring my CVG bias) as pretty good candidates, if not IND.....but then again IND is becoming somewhat of a WN focus city recently, iirc. BNA may be a little too south, CVG may be a little bit east, but both those airports have a lot of facilities which aren't being used. STL seems like it could be ok, I don't know nothing about it.

All of this is wishful thinking though   
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HSVflier
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:33 am

Quoting PHX787 (Reply 12):
I see all 3 of those (ignoring my CVG bias) as pretty good candidates, if not IND.....but then again IND is becoming somewhat of a WN focus city recently, iirc. BNA may be a little too south, CVG may be a little bit east, but both those airports have a lot of facilities which aren't being used. STL seems like it could be ok, I don't know nothing about it.

I think that is why it would work, shuttle folks from the midwest to sunshine destinations and connect the Northeast with the SW US.........your right, wishful thinking.
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GSPFlyer
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:57 am

Quoting PHX787 (Reply 12):
I see all 3 of those (ignoring my CVG bias) as pretty good candidates, if not IND.....but then again IND is becoming somewhat of a WN focus city recently, iirc. BNA may be a little too south, CVG may be a little bit east, but both those airports have a lot of facilities which aren't being used. STL seems like it could be ok, I don't know nothing about it.

The fact that CVG, MEM, and STL have unused/under-utilized facilities are the main reasons I mentioned them.

I completely forgot about IND! That's not a bad choice, located in the right area to capture about any East Coast-West Coast flights, and a large enough city to produce decent O&D traffic.

Also, I remember CMH being mentioned. Not a bad idea either, it is a little further East than the ideal location, but the metro area is similar in size to CLT, with no existing airline hubs.

Quoting HSVflier (Reply 10):
I always felt that BNA would be a good fit for Alaska for something like this.

BNA and STL have the same problem, and that is WN! They seem to have a pretty firm hold on both. While STL might be able to support more flights (TW had a huge operation there), I don't know if BNA is positioned right for the connections AS would rely on from the Pacific Northwest to the entire East Coast.

So, at the end of the day the most likely candidates in this unlikely scenario are; CMH, IND, STL, CVG, MCI if they get a new terminal built, and MEM if DL continues to cut flights.
 
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 7:08 am

AS is a west coast whore. If the management team could find a way to whore itself out in the midwest or east coast, yes they could potentially establish a focus city. However, since most of the street corners are covered the chances are slim to none. All this nonsense with examples like CVG, SLC, MEM, PIT is just pure blather.
 
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 7:08 am

Quoting 727LOVER (Reply 11):
Didnt AS fly LAX-YYZ for about as long as it took to type this?

Yes, back in the 90's with the Mad-Dogs
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EA CO AS
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:00 am

Quoting as739x (Reply 16):
Quoting 727LOVER (Reply 11):Didnt AS fly LAX-YYZ for about as long as it took to type this?
Yes, back in the 90's with the Mad-Dogs

Right up until AC took a sharp look in AS' direction and said, "Oh really?", upgauging to a widebody on the route and swamping AS with deeply-discounted capacity to drive them off the route.
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Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:23 am

Quoting HSVflier (Reply 10):
I always felt that BNA would be a good fit for Alaska for something like this.

Location-wise, maybe... but the space isn't there for more than a handful of flights with mainline aircraft... And by that I don't mean gate space, but ticket counter space, bagroom space, etc. Also, right now, ticket counter space is at the north end of the terminal (as is bagroom space, naturally), and the majority of available gates (including all but one that could actually accomodate a 737) are on the C councourse, which is the southern-most concourse. Not ideal going in, so some kind of re-arrangement would have to occur (easiest would be to move US to C, though).
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msp747
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:41 pm

I think AS will continue to add flights to the east coast, but only to cities where its strong and loyal customer base out west wants to go. That could mean more flights for some midwest and east coast cities, but all those flights would be to west coast destinations where AS is strong, like SAN, SEA, PDX and LAX. Creating focus cities far from the core of your operation doesn't work. Remember the HP focus city in CMH? It didn't work for them, so why would it work for AS?
 
Italianflyer
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:58 pm

Why on earth would they grow organicly in the midwest/east when they have great (partner) hubs in DFW,ORD,ATL,DTW. The nice thing about their strategy is that feed works BOTH WAYS.  

They have mastered lateral western flying and continue to do what their partners can not. Other than connecting markets to feed their romping ground, I think they would be foolish to grow east in the name of chasing market share. That ship sailed in the 1990s/early 00s (insert abandon hub city here). F9 decided to retest that failed modality in MKE and we see how that worked out.

PS: Please...can we put the 'whore' thing to rest. We've been there...got the shirt..stained it, cut the sleeves off of it and used as a gym shirt....now its a dust rag.   
 
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:12 pm

I think any growth of a new focus city would be in California. The Midwest is low yielding. The east past is saturated. There are good O/D routes from airports like SJC OAK SAN etc. there are also opportunities in Mexico.

Any one dreaming if a dead hub in the Midwest like STL PIT BNA MCI etc being resurrected does not follow what AS's growth strategies have been.
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steeler83
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:15 pm

Quoting threeifbyair (Reply 7):
PIT would be a loser from the beginning unless the ACAA gave AS a huge break on airport charges. Regardless, short-haul ex-PIT is not a great business. B6 couldn't make PIT-JFK work and is pulling out next month. WN dropped PIT-PHL after fierce competition from US.

I would love for PIT to have a larger airline presence, but I don't see it happening for at least 5 years or so -- that's when the airport debt should be paid off entirely. The ACAA says they will cut fees drastically once the debt is paid off, and I hope they hold true to that. The airport handles about 8 million pax annually, and that is almost entirely O&D traffic. The local economy is improving there and population is growing. Given that the airport debt should be paid off by 2018, I think it will be some time after then when we'll see any kind of significant growth in air travel...

Not to mention, the traveling public out of PIT still labors under the delusion that US still has a hub there. It is going to take some heavy duty marketing...
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BoeingGuy
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:18 pm

Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 17):
Quoting as739x (Reply 16):
Quoting 727LOVER (Reply 11):Didnt AS fly LAX-YYZ for about as long as it took to type this?
Yes, back in the 90's with the Mad-Dogs

Right up until AC took a sharp look in AS' direction and said, "Oh really?", upgauging to a widebody on the route and swamping AS with deeply-discounted capacity to drive them off the route.

Keep in mind that this was before AS was a more established well known nationwide carrier. I'll bet if AS tried something like this again with 738s, they'd have better luck. AS has proven that they can better stack up against other legacy carriers all over North America.
 
EricR
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:38 am

Quoting BoeingGuy (Reply 23):
AS has proven that they can better stack up against other legacy carriers all over North America.


They have? Where in the Midwest, South, East, or Rocky Mountain region have they proven this? The only thing AS has proven is that they are successful from from SEA/PDX to the interior of the country or along the west coast. This is very different than saying that they can stack up against other legacy carriers all over North America.

AS is a West Coast / Alaska carrier with additional routes to Mexico and Hawaii. They have little strength outside of this area and it will be difficult for AS to build up share outside of their stronghold now that legacy carriers have entrenched themselves in the meaningful hubs around the country and LCCs battle for the remaining lower yielding domestic traffic.
 
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usdcaguy
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:39 am

What would have the route map looked like for AS had they bought NW? I think a hub at MSP would be a perfect complement to SEA.
 
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:34 am

Quoting EricR (Reply 24):
Where in the Midwest, South, East, or Rocky Mountain region have they proven this? The only thing AS has proven is that they are successful from from SEA/PDX to the interior of the country or along the west coast.

Erm, hey....bro?

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enilria
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:56 am

I don't think so because it would endanger their AA/DL relationships.
 
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RWA380
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:12 am

Quoting EricR (Reply 24):
now that legacy carriers have entrenched themselves in the meaningful hubs around the country

So any meaningful hub is outside of the Pacific Northwest? Someone better tell DL and SEA.
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XT6Wagon
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:24 am

Quoting RWA380 (Reply 28):
So any meaningful hub is outside of the Pacific Northwest? Someone better tell DL and SEA

SEA isn't all that. Way too much international travel gets sucked down to LAX and SFO for it to ever rank high. Doesn't help that the management has driven a pretty substantial amount of regional traffic down to PDX with the very high costs to serve SEA.
 
rwsea
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:40 am

Quoting EricR (Reply 24):
AS has proven that they can better stack up against other legacy carriers all over North America.


They have? Where in the Midwest, South, East, or Rocky Mountain region have they proven this? The only thing AS has proven is that they are successful from from SEA/PDX to the interior of the country or along the west coast. This is very different than saying that they can stack up against other legacy carriers all over North America.

He said that they have proven that they can stack up against other legacy carriers, which is true:

- They've successfully entered the West Coast-Hawaii market with an overwhelming result. They serve all major airports in Hawaii and do so from multiple cities along the coast. DL, which is a legacy carrier, has significantly scaled back partly as a result (the dropping of PDX-HNL, SEA-OGG being direct examples).

- The expansion of AS into markets like ORD and DCA has resulted in a decrease in service by legacy carriers (UA, AA)

- AS has been able to limit the growth of WN (considered by some to be a legacy carrier) in the SEA and PDX markets. WN has been stagnant for years at SEA and PDX, despite significant growth at SEA (and to a lesser extent PDX).

- Over the past 10-15 years, UA has shifted from a major to minor player at SEA and much of this is due to the growth of AS.

Now to be fair, establishing a new hub in the east and trying to compete with intra-midwest or midwest-east coast traffic would be a challenge. That said, AS has proven that they are very adept at opening up key point to point routes and trans/midcon routes from SEA and PDX that have stolen market share from other legacies (see the thread about SEA-ORD only being 3x daily on UA as an example). There's no reason that AS can't keep adding trans/mid-con flights from SEA/PDX/SAN, and maybe even SJC and LAX, and that this growth won't come at the expense of established airlines. There's plenty of historical evidence that AS is a force to be reckoned with.
 
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RWA380
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:17 am

Quoting XT6Wagon (Reply 29):
SEA isn't all that.

Geography alone gives SEA an advantage over any other city in the lower 48, being the closest city to Asian markets made it attractive for NW when they bridged the Pacific, and it appears DL may continue that trend. Also consider cargo.
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:48 pm

I used to work at QX. While Pinneo is no longer CEO, I can say, based on my knowledge and experience, that while all of this speculation is interesting, I highly doubt that QX will be used in any form other than up and down the west coast and into Northern Mexico. You'd have a better chance of seeing an Aeroflot A380 land in Seattle than QX start a hub in CMH, PIT, RDU, or anywhere else on that side of the continent.
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:43 pm

I think there's more opportunity for AS in the West, for instance at PHX. "IF" the AA/US merger goes through the consensus amongst A-net is that PHX would either be reduced or eliminated entirely as a hub in favor of DFW and LAX. This would give AS an opportunity to open up a focus city in PHX, which would be more in the AS model than anything West of the Rockies. PHX would make the perfect AS hub, it's a natural destination for folks from the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. PHX is also a great connecting point for travelers from the Northwest to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean as well as East Coast travelers heading to the West Coast.

AS takes over PHX, while codesharing with newly merged AA/UA seems like a win/win.
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EricR
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:51 pm

Quoting rwsea (Reply 30):
He said that they have proven that they can stack up against other legacy carriers, which is true:


Well, not quite. What he said was that "AS has proven that they can better stack up against other legacy carriers all over North America" which is not true. If you live east of the states of CA, OR, WA and want to travel anywhere in the East, South, Midwest, or Rocky Mountains, then AS is useless. They have never tested these waters.

Sure they reach inland towards some large cities (ie. DFW, ORD, BOS, etc.), but those routes are exclusively tied to the west coast. AS has yet to prove that they can do anything meaningful within the interior of the country unless the route is tied to the 3 west coast states (two of which contain AS fortress hubs). This is hardly any meaningful measure that tests AS ability to stack up against the legacy carriers.
 
GentFromAlaska
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RE: Would AS/QX Ever Open An Eastern Focus City?

Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:26 pm

Quoting HSVflier (Reply 10):
I always felt that BNA would be a good fit for Alaska

As a potential service city I agree. It would be neat to see AS in BNA. There was some scuttlebutt about it happening several years ago thus I think its on their radar.

Nashville is currently building what will be the largest convention center in the U.S. exceeding MCO and SAN which is currently scheduled to be completed in April this year.

The one thing which sways me away from any sort of hub or focus city at BNA is all the routes WN flies from BNA most if not every city AS currently flies from SEA is offered by WN out of BNA. I think it would be huge hit early on for anybody who has never flown on AS. With the potential AA/US merger its going to be interesting watching the code share AA has with AS.

A hidden jewel solely as a mid America hub with no known current hub activity and is easy to get into would be OKC. I realize its a little further West than the the left bank of the Mississiippi River.
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