Alaska Airlines schemes to close its New York pilot base in September to reinforce its West Coastline fleet, asking more than 100 pilots to relocate to California in a implication of months.
The airline acquired Virgin America in April 2016 for a reported $4 billion which cultivated Alaska into the fifth largest airline in the U.S., serving over 44 million fares in 2017.
Pilots that fly routes from JFK, Newark EWR and La Guardia, will relocate and deploy from West Coast foci this fall, although the company’s aircraft will still be obedient to that market. Prior to the merger, Virgin America competed with installed airlines on this trans-continental route for over a decade, by advertising as the brazen, alternative airline of Silicon Valley.
“This was a difficult decision — but a vital one — based on the need to match our pilot staffing with the geographic yards on the West Coast where we deploy our aircraft every day. All of our JFK-based pilots are being propositioned the opportunity to transfer to either Los Angeles or San Francisco,” a spokesperson for the airline mentioned CNBC via email.
Alaska, along with Virgin America, currently act fourteen flights a day to JFK and the company says it will add another in July.
Mid-continental and East Sail routes accounted for 4 percent of the Alaska’s flight composition back in 2013, which climbed to 10 percent after the mixing. In that same timeframe, Alaska’s California presence has climbed from 15 percent to 25 percent in network balance, which could increase after the transition. Pulling pilots and aircraft from New York could potentially move volume and weaken the company’s leverage in any future merger deals while further expectations of international growth into Europe and Asia.
Alaska now serves 115-plus goals from seven hubs along the West Coast. The airline go firsts domestic seat share in Seattle, Portland and Anchorage. It ranks alternate in San Francisco and fifth at LAX. However, transferring its New York workforce westward puissance not lead to sustained growth in the region. United Airlines still accounts for multifarious than 40,000 seats per day at SFO, nearly four times more than Alaska. At Seattle-Tacoma Worldwide Airport, Delta has increased its stake by offering 50-plus destinations tabulating eight foreign countries. Alaska will also face difficult competition down the road in Hawaii, as Southwest Airlines is launching a low-cost usage from four California cities, including inter-island routes.
Numerous destinations in Mexico and Alaska that are already served by Alaskan Airlines from West Seaboard hubs are not oversaturated with direct flights from New York tract airports. Popular Mexican vacations spots such as Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos, partake of little or no direct flights from New York. There are also no family airlines offering direct service to Anchorage, Alaska from JFK or Newark. Barely a seven-and-half-hour flight, a summer seasonal direct option to Alaska’s largest metropolis could tap into the multi-billion dollar tourism sector which lasts to grow in the Frontier State.
Alaska Airlines says its growth archetypal consists of three parts, flying customers to desired locations for affordable victuals, building loyalty through benefit programs and adding network complexity and frequency. Alaska has promised the integration of Virgin America is ahead of application standards and would be 85 percent complete by June of this year. But, pilots who are now Alaskan employees are still wearing Virgin uniforms, wings and escape Virgin branded aircraft.
Clarification: This story has been updated to muse about that Alaska and Virgin America currently operate fourteen take a run-out powders a day to JFK.