First Step Towards Possible Acquisition?
Is this the first step towards an even-larger Delta Air
Lines? On Monday, Delta CEO Richard Anderson joined Bill Ayer, CEO
of Alaska Airlines, in announcing an agreement "in principle" to
expand the marketing agreement between both carriers, to make the
airlines preferred alliance partners on the West Coast.
Delta states the amended agreement will benefit customers
through supporting the launch of new Delta long-haul trans-Pacific
and Latin American routes from the West Coast; expanded connecting
opportunities to and from Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air hubs and
focus cities; and enhanced worldwide frequent flier and lounge
reciprocity agreements between Delta and Alaska.
"Alaska Air Group is a perfect alliance partner for Delta as we
pair our expansive international network with Alaska's leading
presence across the West Coast to build a platform for
international growth from the West," said Delta CEO Richard
Anderson. "Building on our existing agreement, Delta, Alaska and
Horizon will now be able to offer customers more departures and
capacity along the West Coast than any US airline with the enhanced
ability to feed Delta's growing global route system."
"Continuing to work with Delta -- the world's largest airline
with the broadest global route system of any US carrier -- is a
natural fit for Alaska and Horizon," added Ayer. "Our customers
will benefit from expanded access to Delta's unmatched domestic and
international network and from improved frequent flier and lounge
agreements that make it easier to fly with Alaska around the world.
All three airlines enjoy similar reputations for excellent service
and a quality product, making our alliance even more
The former Delta had a limited alliance since 2004, while Alaska
and its regional subsidiary Horizon Airlines also enjoyed a 20-year
partnership with Northwest Airlines.
As ANN reported, shareholders in Delta and
Northwest formally approved a merger of those two airlines in
September, and regulators signed off on the deal last month...
creating what is currently the world's largest airline.
The upgraded marketing alliance between Delta and Alaska appears
similar to other strategic alliances -- don't say mergers --
announced this year. After being shunned by US Airways and
Continental with regards to a merger of its own,
United Airlines announced an alliance with the latter in
June. Like the Delta/Alaska partnership, that alliance
gives fliers on either carrier access to each others' business
lounges and frequent flier programs, and also allows increased
Airline industry analysts say those alliances offer many of the
perks of a full-fledged merger... without the headaches of
combining fleets and workforces, or winning approval from
That said, given Delta's recent history with successfully
acquiring another carrier, one must wonder whether Monday's
announcement isn't the first step towards Alaska eventually going
the way of Northwest, as well. Stay tuned.