Delta will take over Alaska Airlines (unless…) – From Puget Sound Business Journal

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This piece from the Puget Sound Business Journal is all but calling it game over. Now for years many of us have been speculating about a Delta takeover of Alaska Airlines (AS). Alaska does not seem to want to be taken over by their sorta-partner-ish airline rival.

Things have gotten uglier month by month. From routes to cuts in partner elite benefits to crushing blows in award points – it seems like just a matter of time before a complete split is announced.

I was VERY much in the PRO merger camp a while back. It would benefit Delta to swallow up Alaska and I wanted that to happen. Now, NO WAY PAL! Please NO NO NO! Alaska has a top notch operation and a frequent flyer program that big brother Delta could only DREAM of having. Alaska is rewarding those who spend more with the airline AND those who just fly now and then. I could go on and on how honest, upfront and the fact that they publish rather than HIDE their award charts.

So will it happen? I am no legal expert by far. From my gut I would think it would be very hard to pull off. Everyone is so upset at Delta this year that from a popularity standpoint it would be like a Texas rancher trying to convince a vegan that beef is really good for them and to trust them that a Delta takeover would be good for them. Yeah, just not gonna happen.

What do you think? Is it really going to happen? Is it all but inevitable? Would it be good for Delta? Would it be good for Alaska flyers? You know how I feel. How do YOU feel about it? – René
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15 comments

  1. Well,

    This is our neck of the woods…and we hear a lot from all sides of this “FRENEMIES” situation.

    I have spoken directly with an AS exec who told me that they are in talks with another major player to join an alliance that would expand AS’s business appeal and give it some support. He did not come out and say the words, but it was obvious he was referring to AA and the oneworldalliance

    Alaska needs help to fight off the encroachments of Delta and must solidify a new partnership ASAP

  2. I just happened to fly on AS to and from Alaska last week. Here are my observations. The Alaska lounge, The Boardroom, in Seattle is not good, worse than the SkyClubs (pretty low standard). It’s internet is very slow, and the food is skimpy. However, one thing AS has going for it is their people (flight attendants and pilots) — super friendly and wanting to help. I mean friendly in a neighborly, very informal sort of way. The DL flight attendants and pilots (although there are exceptions) are more distant and trying to be professional in the formal sort of way. From only two flights, it’s hard to generalize, but the feeling I got was the Alaska employees loved their airline more than the DL people love DL. I would guess DL wins the battle unless AS joins another big alliance and get protection from them. We’ll see. I hate airline contractions — the customers always get the short end of the deal!

  3. I saw this piece earlier in the news. It is a very misleading article as the real reason that Joseph Schocken is making statements is because Delta is against the U.S. Export-Import Bank (aka Ex-Im Bank). From the article: “Delta taking a lead position against Ex-Im Bank, sits very badly with me,” said Schocken, who serves on the National Advisory Board of the Democratic National Committee. “It’s a hugely important issue for this region, and Delta is the lead antagonist on approval of Ex-Im Bank.”

    Delta’s reason for not supporting it is:
    Delta and other U.S. airlines, for instance, gripe that Ex-Im supports enable their foreign competitors on the same routes to buy fancy new Boeing planes at an unfair discount.
    According to the Air Line Pilots Association, this accounted for a $2 million-per-plane cost advantage for Air India on a recent Boeing order. Maybe so, but Air India bought 27 Boeing planes that it might not have purchased without Ex-Im help.

    So at the end of the day Schocken is really just another politician trying to make a stand for the state of Washington and more specifically about Boeing. The rhetoric about Delta merging with AS is simply hot air to get more pub on his real issue.

  4. Rene, this simply is a case of NOT GONNA HAPPEN. Let’s say for sake of argument that AS agreed to merge is DL, the justice department will not approve another BIG 3 merger. AS consistently delivers that Northwest spirit of service and if you not from the Pacific Northwest, you wouldn’t understand what I am talking about. I have noticed recently that prior to pushback, the Captain comes out to the first class galley, gets on the intercom and personally welcomes the passengers, introduces the flight crew, tells us about the flight characteristics and thanks us for flying AS. This is a pretty classy thing for the Captain to do. AS has a game plan and it is not to compete head to head with DL. Instead, AS is opening new routes such as JFK which was announced last week. AS customers are a pretty loyal bunch and JD Powers has the AS mileage plan number one again.

    You mention “crushing blows to award points”. AS hasn’t found the need to hide their award chart. Add to that the increases in miles earnings both on AS and DL metal. AS has increased the earnings on DL flights by another 25% booked in D,I,J,C,A, F and P classes.

    I am proud to be an AS gold member and they always tell me that they value my business.

  5. Never flown Alaska but after my status match DM to MVP Gold 75K I have a couple flights booked later this summer. I’m looking forward to it but as a Floridian I can’t get farther away from the action. The routes from TPA or MCO kinda stink (I’m being nice). I’m sure I will enjoy the product and people and I look forward to the pancake machine at PDX! The status match was generous and they got my attention.

  6. Hard to envision a hostile airline takeover. And perhaps Congress has allowed enough of these that the complete anti-competiveness of a DAL/ALK “merger” is a non-starter.

  7. My opinion? Merger isn’t going to happen, but I think there is a high probability that AS will join an alliance, and I’m guessing it won’t be pursuing what’s left of SkyTeam. 🙂

  8. OMG, I cannot believe these stories still keep popping up. There is no way it is going to happen. Haven’t we learned the lesson: hostile airline mergers only happen when the target is in BK Court. Alaska, OTOH, is _very_ profitable.

    OTOH, I think Alaska is blowing it by playing defense instead of offense. Alaska would make a strong point if they started flying a few choice DL routes.

  9. No way a merger will happen. If anything, all of DL’s changes for reduced miles, awards, etc. have pushed AS to be friendlier with AA. While DL decreased mile earning for AS flyers on DL metal, AA increased it by allowing earnings on it’s low O class. If DL keeps it up, I would expect to see a fuller AS-AA partnership and AS would dump DL altogether.

  10. I don’t think they should merge only because I think we need more airline competition. However, I find it interesting that people think any of the airlines actually reward their fliers appropriately. Does anyone know of a domestic airline that gives top level status to customers who fly 50 roundtrip flights (100 segments) each year on that airline. If you know of one please tell me because that I’d the airline I want to fly. Thanks! 🙂

  11. Ha! I just looked up Alaska’s program and saw that they only require 90 segments for top tier elite status! I like them the best…now let me see what kinds of flights they have from Chicago 🙂

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