Tag Archives: Alaska Airlines

What’s an ATC delay? Here’s what can cause them – and what Alaska Airlines is doing behind the scenes

From the Alaska Airlines blog:

Few things are as frustrating as sitting on an airplane waiting out an “ATC delay.”

ATC is airline-speak for Air Traffic Control, a program governed by the Federal Aviation Administration. It manages the flow of planes as they arrive and depart airports. ATC’s top priority: safety. That includes maintaining a safe amount of separation between aircraft.

In perfect conditions, planes can fly closer together. When airport conditions deterio­rate – wind, snow, poor visibility, or even too many flights scheduled in the same time period – controllers ensure the highest levels of safety by requiring more space between planes as they arrive or depart. Instead of 60 airplanes arriving every hour, for instance, ATC might restrict the flow to 30 airplanes. Of course, that slower rate creates a backlog.

Airplanes must wait their turn in the air, at the departure gate or on the taxiway. Other times, airlines cancel flights to help minimize the snowball effect of delays, and passengers are rebooked on the next available flight.

What causes ATC delays?

When you’re waiting for your flight on a blue­bird day, it can be hard to believe that weather is the biggest culprit, causing nearly 80 percent of all delays. And it’s not always the weather at the airport you’re departing – it’s usually the weather along your route or at your destina­tion. Some delays are seasonal (like snow and thunderstorms), while others are unusual. Poor visibility from wildfire smoke, for instance, repeatedly delayed flights in the Pacific North­west and California this past summer.

In a more common scenario, San Francisco’s visibility-impairing fog regularly complicates schedules.

Air travel has seen huge growth over the past decade, and it has been difficult for air­ports to meet demand for more runways and gates.

“We’re taking a proactive approach to manage air traffic on a day-to-day basis,” says Todd Sproul, Alaska’s vice president of system operations.

What’s Alaska doing about it?

Air Traffic Control is an ongoing process. Multiple times each day, Alaska’s ATC chief dispatchers communicate with the FAA in Virginia about what’s happening in the sky. Alaska’s Flight Operations ATC team not only listens to the FAA, they also propose changes to the FAA’s requirements to minimize the impact of delay programs.

Alaska recently hired Steven Osterdahl as director of air traffic and air space operations. He brings 33 years of FAA experience.

“Alaska Airlines is investing time, energy and resources to operate as efficiently as possible, but we’re also working with the FAA with an eye toward the future to mitigate additional delays as air traffic continues to grow,” Osterdahl said.

Working with pilots, the ATC tower and the FAA, Alaska’s team has made more efficient use of Seattle’s runways, which has decreased the number of departure and arrival delays.

Longer term, Alaska’s Air Traffic, Dispatch and Systems Operations teams are continually seeking creative solutions to address delays, regardless of cause. The team studies weather patterns, rush-hour travel times and seasons, airport configurations – any number of vari­ables, in search of ways to schedule the most reliable flight times possible.

How to minimize the impact of a delay


Alaska Airlines to drop four routes this summer

Alaska Airlines Airbus A320-214 N625VA (msn 2800) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 940976.

Alaska Airlines is dropping four routes. According to Airline Route, the carrier will drop the following routes:

Los Angeles – Orlando on July 5, 2018

San Diego – Mexico on May 19, 2018

San Francisco – Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood on June 17, 2018

San Francisco – Minneapolis/St. Paul on May 19, 2018

Copyright Photo: Alaska Airlines Airbus A320-214 N625VA (msn 2800) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 940976.

Alaska Airlines aircraft slide show (Airbus):

Alaska Airlines, Virgin America and its flight attendants reach tentative merger agreement

Alaska Airlines Airbus A320-214 N625VA (msn 2800) FLL (Bruce Drum). Image: 104579.

Alaska Airlines, Virgin America and the Association of Flight Attendants announced on February 14, 2018 announced they have reached a tentative merger agreement for the airline’s 5,400 flight attendants.

The merger agreement includes competitive pay raises, increase in retirement contributions and quality of life benefits and preserves all productivity of Alaska Airlines existing contract.

Alaska Airlines’ flight attendants will conduct a ratification vote that is expected to be completed in April. The tentative merger agreement marks a major milestone in integrating Virgin America and Alaska Airlines flight attendants.

Virgin America flight attendants joined AFA in April 2017, shortly after the merger. Next steps for this work group include combining seniority lists, cross training on Boeing and Airbus, as well as integration of crew scheduling systems, which will be completed in 2019.

The existing five-year contract, which was approved by members in 2014, becomes amendable in December 2019. Alaska Airlines and AFA will begin negotiations for its first joint labor agreement later this year.

Under the Railway Labor Act, which governs collective bargaining agreements in the airline industry, contracts do not expire. Instead they become amendable.

Copyright Photo: Alaska Airlines Airbus A320-214 N625VA (msn 2800) FLL (Bruce Drum). Image: 104579.

Alaska Airlines aircraft slide show (Airbus, current livery):

Portland Timbers, Alaska Airlines announce renewal of partnership

The 2011 Portland Timbers special livery

The Portland Timbers has announced that the club has entered into a multiyear partnership extension with Alaska Airlines. As part of the continued partnership, the iconic Northwest airline’s wordmark will continue to be featured prominently on Timbers game kits and club apparel.

(PRNewsfoto/Alaska Airlines)

In addition to being featured on Timbers jerseys, Alaska Airlines will continue to serve as the team’s official airline. Alaska Airlines, a Founding Partner of the Timbers, has been the club’s jersey partner since its inaugural 2011 MLS season.

As part of the partnership, Alaska Airlines will continue to support Stand Together Week and the Portland Timbers Community Fund as well as additional community initiatives. Alaska Airlines also will be a presenting sponsor for all MLS Timbers youth soccer camps.

Among the many fan-friendly components of the uniquely interactive partnership, Alaska Airlines will continue its popular program to allow year-round early boarding privileges on its flights originating from PortlandInternational Airport to fans wearing Timbers jerseys. The airline will continue to fly the popular Timbers Jet throughout its route network; the club-themed plane was unveiled in 2011 with a design inspired by two Timbers fans through a paint-the-plane contest.

Alaska Airlines offers more nonstop flights (serving over 58 different destinations) and more daily flights (128 a day) from Portland International Airport than any other carrier.

Top Copyright Photo: Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-790 WL N607AS (msn 29751) (Portland Timbers) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 930215.

Alaska Airlines aircraft slide show (historic liveries):

Alaska Airlines donates $1.5 million to remodel Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum

From the Alaska Airlines blog:

If you’ve been to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., you know how spectacular it is – a place filled with history and exhibits that inspire, educate and entertain.

That’s why Alaska Airlines is donating $1.5 million in support of the “American by Air” gallery, part of the overall remodeling of the museum’s flagship building. From large aircraft to smaller artifacts – such as uniforms, models and engines – the gallery traces the history of commercial aviation in the United States.

“Alaska Airlines is committed to working in our communities to introduce young people – especially those most at risk – to job opportunities in aviation and beyond, to set them up for success in future career options,” said Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska Airlines vice president of external relations. “We are honored to support one of the world’s most premier education centers and a national treasure as it gears up to inspire future aviators and young adults in person, around the country and around the world. And for Alaska Airlines guests traveling to our nation’s capital, you can go see your favorite airline playing a part in our nation’s history.”

‘Inspiring young people to pursue careers in aviation and engineering’

The Smithsonian shares Alaska Airlines’ passion for innovation and constant improvement. With that in mind, it’s now time for a transformation of the museum – and Alaska Airlines is proud to play a key part. The contribution by Alaska and additional airlines will support the re-imagining of the hall and will be recognized at the revamped entrance. The gallery is scheduled to close mid-2018, with the newly renovated gallery reopening sometime in 2021.

“The generous contribution by Alaska Airlines and other airlines not only signals a commitment to the storied history of air travel, but to inspiring young people to pursue careers in aviation and engineering,” said Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey, the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum. “These gifts help launch the museum on a trajectory to realizing the transformation of this important place.”

The Smithsonian will join the great array of organizations that Alaska Air Group partners with to connect young people with opportunities, including the Museum of Flight, The Road Maps Project, Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, Alaska Challenger Center for Space Science Technology, United Negro College Fund, Technology Access Foundation and others.

Alaska’s goal is to impact 100,000 youths by 2020.

Learn more: Changes in store for the National Air and Space Museum

Photo: Alaska Airlines.

Japan Airlines and Alaska Airlines to expand codeshare network

From the Alaska Airlines blog:

Alaska Airlines and Japan Airlines (JAL) are expanding their partnership with additional codeshare flights that include former Virgin America routes, such as San Francisco to Boston, to Denver and to Newark.

Japan Airlines will start selling tickets for the new codeshare flights on Feb. 6 for travel after May 20, 2018.

Alaska and JAL originally teamed up in June 2016 with a codeshare agreement and frequent-flyer partnership, providing seamless travel and mileage earning opportunities between Alaska’s gateways in North America, Japan and throughout Asia. For members of Alaska’s Mileage Plan, base miles earned and class of service bonuses on Japan Airlines count toward Mileage Plan elite status.

JAL operates a modern fleet of Boeing 777-300ERs and 787s between Japan and North America.

Alaska Air Group reports fourth quarter and 2017 results

Alaska Airlines Airbus A320-214 N625VA (msn 2800) VCV (Derin Allard). Image: 940790.

Alaska Airlines Group issued this financial report for the 4Q and 2017:

Dividend Increase:

  • Announced today a 7% increase in the quarterly dividend from $0.30 per share to $0.32 per share. The dividend will be paid on March 8, to all shareholders of record as of Feb. 20, 2018. This is the fifth time the company has raised the dividend since initiating the quarterly dividend in July 2013, with a cumulative increase of 220% since that time.

Financial Highlights:

  • Reported net income for the fourth quarter and full-year under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“GAAP”) of $367 million, or $2.97 per diluted share, and $1.0 billion, or $8.30 per diluted share. These results compare to fourth quarter 2016 net income of $114 million, or $0.92per diluted share, and full-year 2016 net income of $814 million, or $6.54 per diluted share. As the acquisition of Virgin America Inc. (Virgin America) closed on Dec. 14, 2016, 2017 information reflects the results of Virgin America. 2016 information reflects the results of Virgin America from Dec. 14-31, 2016.
  • Reported fourth quarter 2017 adjusted diluted earnings per share of $0.83 compared to $1.56reported in the fourth quarter of 2016. Fourth quarter adjusted net income, excluding merger-related costs, special income tax benefits related to tax law changes, and mark-to-market fuel hedging adjustments, was $103 million compared to $193 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. This quarter’s adjusted results compare to the First Call analyst consensus estimate of $0.82 per share.
  • Reported full year 2017 adjusted net income, excluding merger-related costs, the special income tax benefit, and mark-to-market fuel hedging adjustments, of $823 million, compared to $911 million in 2016. Reported 2017 adjusted diluted earnings per share of $6.64, compared to $7.32in 2016.
  • Paid a $0.30 per-share quarterly cash dividend in the fourth quarter, bringing total dividend payments in 2017 to $148 million.
  • Repurchased a total of 981,277 shares of common stock for approximately $75 million in 2017.
  • Generated approximately $1.6 billion of operating cash flow and used approximately $1.0 billionfor capital expenditures, resulting in approximately $547 million of free cash flow in 2017.
  • Grew passenger revenues by 32% compared to the fourth quarter of 2016, and by 36% compared to full-year 2016, largely enabled by our acquisition of Virgin America in December of 2016.
  • Generated full-year adjusted pretax margin of 17% in 2017.
  • Held $1.6 billion in unrestricted cash and marketable securities as of Dec. 31, 2017.
  • Reduced debt-to-capitalization ratio to 51% as of Dec. 31, 2017, compared to 59% as of Dec. 31, 2016.

2017 Accomplishments and Highlights:

Recognition and Awards – Alaska

  • Ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Carriers” in 2017 by J.D. Power for the tenth year in a row.
  • Ranked first in the U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Travel Rewards Programs for the third consecutive year.
  • Won the “Best Rewards Program” for Alaska Mileage Plan for carriers in the “Americas” region in the sixth annual FlyerTalk Award.
  • Mileage Plan ranked Best Airline Elite Status Program in the U.S. by The Points Guy.
  • Ranked among Forbes’ 2017 “America’s Best Employers” for the third year in a row.
  • Received 16th Diamond Award of Excellence from the Federal Aviation Administration, recognizing both Alaska and Horizon’s aircraft technicians for their commitment to training.
  • Ranked by AirlineRatings.com as one of only two U.S. airlines in the Top 20 safest airlines in the world.
  • Rated “Best Airline Staff in North America” and “Best Regional Airline in North America” by Skytrax World Airline Awards.
  • Awarded TripAdvisor’s 2017 Travelers’ Choice Award for second-best midsize and low-cost airlines in North America and one of the top 10 best airlines in the world.
  • Recognized by the Puget Sound Business Journal as the 2017 Board Diversity Champion, as well as by the Women Corporate Directors Global Institute for diversity among our Directors.
  • Ranked as the top U.S. airline in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), receiving perfect scores for “efficiency” and “reliability.”
  • Recognized as No. 1 in fuel efficiency for U.S. airlines by the International Council on Clean Transportation for the 7th consecutive year.
  • Named one of the overall five-star major regional airlines at the Passenger Choice Awards during the APEX EXPO.
  • Ranked fifth of most engaged companies in the U.S. by Forbes Insights, which measured social media engagement, net promoter scores, and year-over-year sales growth.

Recognition and Awards – Virgin America

  • Rated Best U.S. Airline by Conde Nast Traveler in their “Annual Readers’ Choice Awards” for the tenth year in a row.
  • Rated Best Domestic Airline in Travel + Leisure “World’s Best Awards” for the tenth year in a row.
  • Received a five-star rating for low-cost carrier, and received a top honor with a Passenger Choice Award for “Best Seat Comfort” during the APEX EXPO.

Our People

  • Awarded $135 million in incentive pay to employees for 2017.
  • Awarded employees a $1,000 bonus in January 2018 in connection with the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, amounting to approximately $25 million to be paid on Jan. 29, 2018.
  • Granted “Single Carrier Determination” by the National Mediation Board (“NMB”) for Alaska Airlines and Virgin America, paving the way for labor integration and union representation. The NMB officially certified the Association of Flight Attendants as the union representative for Virgin America inflight teammates and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers as the union representative for Virgin America clerical, office and passenger service employees.
  • Entered into an agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to amend the eight-year contract with Horizon’s pilots, providing Horizon the ability to attract and retain the best pilots in the regional industry.
  • Alaska received a perfect score of 100% for workplace equality on the 2018 Corporate Equality Index (“CEI”). Virgin America received a score of 95%.

Our Guests and Product

  • Launched various new in-flight amenities, including Free Chat, upgraded food and beverage options and Premium Class service.
  • Selected Gogo to provide next-generation satellite-based Wi-Fi across the entire Boeing and Airbus fleets, providing guests a faster and more-reliable internet connection.
  • Dropped fees for bikes, golf clubs, skis, surfboards, and other sporting equipment that exceed Alaska’s normal checked baggage weight and dimensions to $25.
  • Added Condor Airlines, Finnair, and Singapore Airlines as global Mileage Plan partners.
  • Announced plans to fly 13 daily departures from Paine Field-Snohomish County Airport in Everett, Washington to eight West Coast markets starting in fall 2018.
  • Announced a seven-year partnership to be the official airline of the San Francisco Giants which includes, among other things, exclusive naming rights to the AT&T Park Club Level which will now be called the “Alaska Airlines Club Level.”

  • Signed an exclusive multi-year partnership with Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant naming him “Advisor to the CEO,” and extended our partnership with Russell Wilson and Ciara.
  • Converted the world’s first Boeing 737-700 from a passenger plane to a freighter and placed it into revenue service.
  • Added 14 Boeing 737-900ER aircraft and 4 Airbus A321neo aircraft to the operating fleet in 2017, bringing the total Mainline fleet to 221 aircraft.
  • Added 10 Embraer 175 (E175) regional jets to Horizon Air’s fleet in 2017.
  • Added 44 new markets in 2017 across the Alaska Air Group and Virgin America networks.

Our Communities

  • Donated over $14 million and contributed more than 32,000 volunteer hours to support nonprofits in our local communities, focusing on youth and education, medical (research/transportation) and community outreach.

Alaska Air Group Inc. reported fourth quarter 2017 GAAP net income of $367 million, or $2.97 per diluted share, compared to $114 million, or $0.92 per diluted share in 2016. Excluding the impact of merger-related costs, the special income tax benefit, and mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments, the company reported fourth quarter adjusted net income of $103 million, or $0.83 per diluted share, compared to adjusted net income of $193 million, or $1.56 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The company reported full-year 2017 GAAP net income of $1,028 million, compared to $814 million in the prior year. Excluding the impact of merger-related costs, the special income tax benefit, and mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments, the company reported adjusted net income of $823 million, or $6.64 per diluted share for 2017, compared to adjusted net income of $911 million, or $7.32 per diluted share in 2016.

“2017 was a great year – we invested in our route network, our fleet, our product, and laid the foundation for our future,” said Brad Tilden, Alaska’s CEO. “We added 44 new routes to our network (in addition to the 38 added through Virgin America), grew membership in our loyalty program, and made great progress on our integration of Virgin America. By early spring, we’ll have the bulk of the integration behind us, and working with our people to do more of what Alaska does best – running a highly reliable operation and offering our guests outstanding customer service.”

Copyright Photo: The first ex-Virgin America Airbus A320 has been repainted at Victorville. After this photo was taken, it was flown to San Francisco to enter revenue service from SFO. Alaska Airlines Airbus A320-214 N625VA (msn 2800) VCV (Derin Allard). Image: 940790.


Alaska Airlines aircraft slide show (current livery):