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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Official: Alaska Joins oneworld With No Interest In Widebodies

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Alaska Airlines has officially joined the oneworld alliance. An array of executives from the airline and other oneworld members were optimistic about the prospects of what Alaska’s entrance into the alliance could bring. At a question and answer session after the announcement that Alaska is officially a member of the oneworld alliance, newly-minted CEO Ben Minicucci squashed any hope for Alaska taking widebodies in the near future.

Alaska oneworld
Alaska Airlines has officially become a member of the oneworld alliance. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines is officially a member of oneworld

Alaska Airlines, based in Seattle, is officially a member of the oneworld alliance. Joining the alliance today, the airline is the 14th full member of oneworld. CEO Ben Minicucci stated the following on joining the alliance at a special webcast event commemorating the milestone:

“This is a game changer. Airlines have pivotal moments in their history. Decisions are made for future success and stability, and to provide increased service and better travel experience for our guests. For Alaska Airlines, oneworld is one of those pivotal moments. As international travel begins to recover, securing our place with oneworld puts us in a much stronger position to grow and compete in the years ahead. This truly opens up the world to our loyal Alaska guests. The possibilities are tremendous and fun to think about.”

Alaska oneworld
On newly-minted CEO Ben Minicucci’s first day, the airline has joined the oneworld alliance. Photo: Alaska Airlines

The first time Alaska has joined an alliance in its 89-year history, the airline announced its intention to join oneworld in February of 2020. In July, the airline received its formal invitation, and, stunningly, only eight months later, the carrier is now a member of oneworld.

The first of three aircraft in Alaska’s fleet that will sport the oneworld livery has been revealed. It is a Boeing 737-900ER that will soon be flying across the Alaska network. The airline also debuted an update to its “Safety Dance” to be oneworld themed:

No widebodies for now

Mr. Minicucci is certainly excited and believes there is plenty of potential for Alaska within the oneworld alliance, but the airline is not upending its fleet and strategy as an alliance member. He specifically stated:

“The caliber of these oneworld airlines is second to none. And so, right now, we are very comfortable where we are in terms of our domestic construct, and with our partnership in oneworld. So, right now we have no plans for wide bodies. I think our first and foremost focus is to get out of this pandemic, get on financial stable footing, and getting oneworld to fire on all cylinders.”

Alaska has doubled down on moving back toward being close to an all-Boeing mainline carrier. The airline has charted out accelerated Airbus A320 retirements with plans to fly more 737 MAX jets, as the carrier firmed up an order for more MAX jets announced in December just on Tuesday.

737 MAX
The 737 family, including the MAX, is the backbone of Alaska’s fleet. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Alaska joining oneworld gives it plenty of access to international long-haul destinations. As a major West Coast carrier, it can connect passengers onto fellow oneworld airlines out of its hubs in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Alaska’s position in oneworld

Alaska Airlines is positioning itself as a leading West Coast carrier within the oneworld alliance. The airline’s hubs include Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Anchorage.

Especially out of Seattle and Los Angeles, Alaska can provide its customers, and the customers of other oneworld airlines, access to a host of new destinations across the Pacific Northwest and more options to fly to and from major cities in the US.

Alaska has now gained seven new airline partners, and the oneworld global network stretches now to nearly 1,000 destinations in over 170 countries and territories.

The map of opportunities with Alaska Airlines as a member of the alliance. Photo: Alaska Airlines

As a member of the alliance, expect Alaska Airlines to deepen its partnerships with other carriers within the alliance that serve Alaska hubs. It is also very much possible that, as airlines come out of the crisis, Seattle could get new or returning air service from oneworld carriers who could codeshare with Alaska and sell connecting tickets, bringing more travel options for many.

American Airlines has already announced it is bringing widebody long-haul service to Seattle. The airline just inaugurated flights from Seattle to London and has plans to add flights to Shanghai and Bangalore later this year.

With partners that can fly internationally, Alaska Airlines does not need widebodies. While this industry has learned to “never say never,” it would take a pretty seismic shift for Alaska to fly widebodies, which its CEO predicts will not be in the near future.

Are you glad that Alaska has joined the oneworld alliance? Do you want Alaska to fly widebodies? Let us know in the comments!

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