Could An Alaska & Air Italy Partnership Be On The Horizon?

Filed Under: Alaska, Other Airlines

One of the things that I love about Alaska Airlines is that they partner with a unique array of airlines. They’re not part of any global alliance, and have plenty of airline partners that belong to alliances, and also partners that don’t belong to alliances.

Unlike the “big three” US carriers, they’re also not anti-Gulf carriers. So they’re willing to partner with Gulf carriers when it makes sense, like their partnership with Emirates.

As many of you are probably aware, Air Italy is the Italian airline that’s 49% owned by Qatar Airways. The airline was supposed to grow significantly, but it’s clear that the airline tried to grow too much too quickly, and we’ve seen much of this growth reversed (now they’ll focus on A330s, rather than getting 787s).

Air Italy A330

As far as their US service goes, the airline flies year-round to Miami and New York, and seasonally to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The “big three” US carriers have been attacking Air Italy on account of their affiliation with Qatar, so it’s no surprise that they haven’t partnered with Air Italy.

All along I’ve thought that potentially there could be value in Alaska working with Air Italy. Not because their route networks are necessarily that complementary (Alaska doesn’t fly to Miami, and Alaska’s service to New York is limited), but rather because they’re one of the only major US airlines that would be willing to work with them.

Well, today Alaska and Air Italy have announced an interline agreement that covers 10 routes. With this agreement, Air Italy will partner with Alaska to offer service to Anchorage, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland, Palm Springs, San Diego, Seattle, San Jose, and Guadalajara.

Alaska Embraer jet

As Air Italy’s Chief Operating Officer, Rossen Dimitrov, describes this:

“Alaska Airlines is a well-respected renowned airline and we’re delighted to partner with them to add these 10 destinations to our network. The US, and particularly the west coast, is a new and exciting market for us.

This new opportunity with Alaska Airlines will now give our customers even more options to connect seamlessly onto our network from new markets such as the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii and Mexico.

At the same time, this new development provides out Italy outbound passengers with a significantly expanded range of options across the west of the United States and Mexico, all of which delivers on our growth plan and brand promise to our customers.”

Air Italy A330 business class

At this point I’m not even sure I’d really call this a partnership. An interline agreement is a very low level of cooperation between airlines. It allows passengers to book an itinerary on both Air Italy and Alaska on the same reservation. This isn’t even a codeshare agreement.

However, it sure does make me think that soon enough Alaska might add Air Italy as their newest airline partner, allowing Mileage Plan members to earn and redeem miles on Air Italy flights. And that would be awesome.

I’ve reached out to Air Italy to ask if a partnership might be in the books. As of now they’ve just told me “It’s the start of an agreement with Alaska, and there’s not a frequent flyer partnership yet. Hopefully in the future.”

Like I said, their cooperation is fairly limited at this point. While Alaska could easily provide feed in Los Angeles and San Francisco, these are only seasonal routes for Air Italy at the moment. Maybe with some additional partnerships, Air Italy could make flights like this work year-round.

Do you think this is the first step towards a full blown partnership between Alaska and Air Italy?

  1. it would make no difference frankly if AS & IG announced a FFP-partnership : it would still take years for AS to implement it (I mean, it’s been two years for SQ already, and they then have to get to LY)

  2. I wonder if this is a first step towards a partnership with Qatar. Given how expensive it is to redeem Alaska miles for Emirates flights and Qatar’s vulnerability due to the ongoing embargo, this would be the perfect time to drop Emirates and switch to Qatar.

  3. Perhaps JetBlue at JFK? Miami won’t work for partnerships because of AA, as you know by being a hub captive there 😉

  4. Armando is spot on. Alaska is good at announcing partnerships, but not so good at actually effectuating them. Alaska and Singapore may be good airlines in their own right but it’s ridiculous and embarrassing that they cannot complete their partnership after nearly two years. Alaska just takes the good PR from the announcement and then doesn’t follow through for the benefit of its loyalty members. Poor leadership. Poor execution.

  5. Agree with SEAguy and Armando – on top of the long implementation process Alaska has with its partners to allow AS mileage redemptions, they have had to suspend Icelandair redemptions indefinitely and for the past three weeks Korean Air redemptions have been impossible to book (despite the fact they show award space if you search for an itinerary). Their (amazing) customer service reps acknowledge there is no timeline for fixing either. Alaska miles are still some of the best mileage currency out there but it seems like management is testing the patience of the frequent flyers they ought to be most concerned with retaining now that Delta (and others) are competing to woo former VX passengers away.

  6. Did anyone else laugh at the title because Alaska’s regional carrier is Horizon and he said “Could an Alaska and Air Italy partnership be on the HORIZON” Or was it just me? Lol

  7. Yes, could be a nice option but still waiting on Aer Lingus and Singapore to mature and finalize

  8. Why is it that everyone is bashing Alaska for slow maturation of any partnership. There are 2 people in that dance. And when was the last time you partnered your multi level billion dollar company with another multi level billion dollar company, how long did that take to fully flush out?

  9. If you’re not against the gulf carriers then you’re simply ignoring what’s right for personally gain. If they want to be government run and government funded, they should pull out of the Open Skies agreement. It’s pretty clear they’re breaking the Open Skies rules. The only reason that JetBlue and Alaska don’t join the fight is because they don’t compete with them, and in some cases, benefit from them.

  10. I think Alaska should first completely implement the features of its existing partnerships before it launching into new ones. It took Alaska way too long to do this for FinnAir. Now Aer Lingus sounded like a great option, but you can’t yet redeem Alaska miles on Aer Lingus. Alaska partnerships are like United Polaris.

  11. Agree with most above. While international redemption options are drying up, AS has yet to implement any new options available from their “recent” partnerships.

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