Merger mania: coming to airlines in Alaska?

In Airfares, Consumer, Shopping, Uncategorized by scott

We just got through with Delta and Northwest. Plus, the whole three-way merger between Era Aviation, Frontier Flying Service and Hageland Aviation. Heck, even Denver-based Frontier Airlines got gobbled up by Midwest Airlines in Milwaukee (well, technically, Republic Airways Holdings in Indianapolis).

So, who’s next? Word on the street is United and Continental are picking out a ring and a date for a mega-merger that would create the world’s biggest airline.

“This all started when Continental left Skyteam for the Star Alliance,” said Mark Eliason of USTravel in Anchorage. “Ultimately, it will be good for the industry,” he said.

But what does it mean for Alaska travelers?

We can look to the merger between Delta and Northwest for some guidance. Both carriers had minimal presence in Anchorage–and by combining there really wan’t any additional service or consolidation, aside from the amount of gate space at the airport. The new airline still flies nonstop to Minneapolis, Detroit, Salt Lake City and Atlanta. Neither Northwest nor Delta was known as a “low fare leader”, so Alaskans really shouldn’t expect any spur-of-the-moment fare wars to stimulate business.

It’s a similar scenario should a merger go through with United and Continental. Neither carrier is known for its aggressive pricing. Continental, with two flights between Anchorage and Seattle, makes no moves to build market share against Alaska Airlines by cutting prices. That said, Continental did drop the price on its new nonstop flight to Portland by more than $100. The current low fare to Seattle is a whopping $514 roundtrip. To Portland? $400 roundtrip.

We’ll cover this in depth next week in the Alaska Dispatch. Bookmark it.

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