By Benjamin Pham
Alaska, Iberia Establish New Oneworld Codeshare Agreement
The ongoing, lengthy Covid-19 pandemic has posed a significant obstacle for the airline industry, as at the peak of the of its effects, several major carriers faced major disruptions in their flight operations. Many airlines faced a major decline in passenger load factors, leading to a large reduction in flight frequencies and a substantial increase in route suspensions, which inhibited growth in route networks.
However, the push for vaccinations and further scientific research in combating Covid-19 has led many carriers towards the light at the end of the tunnel as far as recovery goes. Alaska Airlines’ strategy for recovery and restoring normalcy involved joining a global airline alliance, leading to more possibilities for expansion.
After officially joining the oneworld alliance earlier this year on March 31, the Seattle-based carrier began forming codeshare agreements with other fellow members. Alaska also created a U.S. West Coast Alliance with American Airlines simultaneously when the carrier initially announced its prospective membership in early 2020. The carrier also planned to launch a partnership with Iberia, which Alaska will now intend to expand upon, in its new codeshare agreement with the Spanish carrier.
“We’re thrilled to expand our cooperation with Iberia, one of our newest partners in oneworld,” Nat Pieper, Senior Vice President of fleet, finance and alliances, Alaska Airlines, said. “Alaska joined oneworld to efficiently link our network to the world, and this enhanced partnership with Iberia brings Europe one step closer.”
Within the new codeshare partnership, the carrier plans to allow passengers flying on Iberia to have the opportunity to connect onto the flights in its route network, further than its strongholds in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Currently, the Madrid-based airline flies to LAX and schedules seasonal service from San Francisco to its main hub in Spain.
In late June, Alaska announced its proposal to launch its new codeshare agreement with Qatar Airways, from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, beginning on July 1. The airline’s brand new codeshare provides the airline the potential opportunity to firmly hang on to its West Coast hubs.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of this evolving partnership with Qatar Airways, one of the world’s premier airlines. As international air travel resumes, it’s important to provide our guests with easier, more convenient travel options to get out and see distant places again. Qatar Airways’ nonstop flights from our hubs in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles to Doha and points beyond offers our guests tremendous opportunities to visit nearly any country they want,” Ben Minicucci, Alaska Air Group CEO, said
The Doha-based carrier operates twice-daily flights to Los Angeles while flying daily flights to San Francisco and Seattle.
Alaska expanded its presence within the airline industry through its notable decision to join the oneworld alliance and forming partnerships with the respective airlines such as Iberia, American, and Qatar Airways already. The carrier’s West Coast network continues to expand and be its primary tool for rebuilding its route network, especially from its destinations in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. However, the carrier will no longer have one of the most cutthroat and competitive routes in the U.S., as a part of its route map.
On Oct. 6, the carrier discontinued its flight operations between Los Angeles International Airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, a route the carrier began serving after successfully completing its merger with Virgin America in April 2018, according to Aviation Week.
While Alaska will lose a key route which will leave a gap in its transcontinental route network, the carrier’s strategy in the West continues to make strides.
Evidently, Alaska is poised to further strengthen its membership status and presence in the oneworld alliance. The carrier remains observant of its domestic operations and adjusts them to successfully remain competitive and respond to passenger travel demand. The airline’s brand new codeshare agreements will play a significant role in determining the carrier’s future in the post-Covid-19 world as well as establishing Alaska’s primary role and reputation within the airline alliance.