Longtime airline partners Alaska Airlines and American Airlines were due to cut ties nearly complete in March. But in a stunning reversal, the two carriers today announced a new partnership that should take them closer than ever.
Alaska Airlines announced today that it plans to combine the Oneworld airline alliance by summer 2020, joining other carriers including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas, with others. Alaska previously partners with some of these international players, but the part that might affect U.S. fliers the most is that it should regenerate Alaska and American’s once-moribund partnership.
The two companies stated that they would continue their flight codesharing services and grow them to include international routes from Los Angeles and Seattle. Loyalty members of Alaska Mileage Plan and American Advantage will also be able to take the help of shared benefits with both airlines, including earning and purchasing frequent-flier miles on both carriers’ full networks, reciprocal elite status perks, and lounge access to American Admirals Clubs and Alaska Lounges in the U.S.
The move has surprised the flight industry given the efforts Alaska Airlines and American Airlines have gone to in current years to sort out their once-close relationship. But is possibly an unsurprising response to current moves by Delta.
Those have included creating a new center in the Pacific Northwest at Seattle, which has traditionally been Alaska Airlines’ stronghold. Maybe more significantly for American, Delta recently staked a higher investment in South American behemoth LATAM. That set off a series of events including the imminent departure of LATAM from the Oneworld alliance and the near-complete severing of relations with its former close partner, American Airlines.
Delta has also shown it will focus its energy on creating a new hub at Miami to connect LATAM’s route network to and from the city with Delta’s own vast domestic route network.