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Only days ago, Alaska Airlines announced the latest changes coming because of its massive merger with Virgin America, creating the fifth-largest airline in the country.
The ripples of the deal continue to reveal themselves even after the initial changes, however, and perhaps the biggest impact of all comes about as a result of the latest announcement: The airline is ending its years-long partnership with Delta Airline.
Consequently, members won’t be able to earn points with these loyalty programs by flying with the other, beginning April 30. In addition, travelers will no longer be able to book Delta flights through Alaska Airlines, and vice versa.
The severing of the partnership is unsurprising; the two airlines have become increasingly competitive with one another in recent years, especially in the wake of the Virgin America deal. Alaska Airlines is no longer occupies the niche space it once did, and a partnership with a now-legitimate rival simply didn’t make sense from a business perspective.
“Given our own growth and expansion, Alaska Airlines now can take people virtually anywhere they need to go,” said Charles Breer, Alaska Airlines managing director of alliances, in a FAQ released by the company. “We’ve grown tremendously and with the recent acquisition of Virgin America, we’re now the fifth-largest airline in the U.S. We offer more nonstop West Coast departures than any other airline. And, along with our extensive global partner network, you can seamlessly travel to more than 900 destinations worldwide, including on American Airlines, which is the world’s largest airline. Bottom line – if you live and work on the West Coast, Alaska Airlines is your airline.”
The partnership will end on May 1, 2017, with members still able to earn points on flights until that date. Delta Airlines also commented on the end of the deal, citing presence in the Alaska Airlines hub of Seattle as a factor in ending the partnership.
“We view Seattle and the Pacific Northwest as one of the most important markets in the country, with strong economic growth, cultural diversity and some of the world’s most innovative brands and minds,” said Mike Medeiros, Delta’s Vice President – Seattle. “As a result, we have invested heavily in our product, services, facilities and the community. Our focus now is earning the long-term trust of Pacific Northwest customers by demonstrating the value of partnering with a global airline and the benefits of being a Delta SkyMiles Member.”
Delta’s release sees an opportunity for the airlines to coexist and continue growth even after the split, calling it a “positive milestone for both airlines as Alaska focuses on its merger integration with Virgin America and Delta focuses on creating more customer choice at its Seattle-Tacoma International Airport hub.”
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