Thursday, May 8, 2008

Alaska Airlines Expands Its 'West Most' Schedule, Competition Underway

Fierce competition is underway between Virgin America and Alaska Airlines. Alaska Air, based in Seattle, is well established with routes throughout the West Coast. Meanwhile, San Francisco based Virgin America recently launched flights to and from Seattle with introductory prices as low as $73 each way. Alaska has responded with a huge "West Most" marketing campaign, designed to remind travelers of the extensive network and frequency of flights offered. 

Between San Francisco and Seattle for example, Alaska offers 10 daily flights, including a recent announcement of adding 2 new departures in July. If you add in Oakland and San Jose airports, Alaska has 24 daily flights up to Seattle. Virgin pales in comparison, operating only 3 daily flights. In fact, Alaska Airlines and sister-airline Horizon offer flights to 16 airports in California alone, whereas Virgin America flies to only 3 airports in the Golden State.

Despite lacking daily flights, Virgin America is more about a wonderful onboard experience. Probably no other domestic airline offers such good onboard amenities and features as Virgin.   But they are the new guy in town competing against Alaska, a familiar face to the Bay Area market. In time, we will see if both can survive in the same market.