Alaska Airlines’ Surprising Florida Expansion

Filed Under: Alaska

Alaska Airlines has today announced 10 new routes, five of which are to Florida, and come as quite a surprise to me.

Alaska Airlines adding new LAX routes

Alaska Airlines has revealed seven new routes out of LAX, which complements a recent announcement from the company about five new routes out of LAX. This means that in total Alaska is adding a dozen new routes out of LAX in 2020.

With this latest development, Alaska Airlines is launching the following nonstop flights from LAX:

  • Daily service to Eugene as of October 1, 2020, using Embraer 175s
  • Daily service to Medford as of October 1, 2020, using Embraer 175s
  • Daily service to Bozeman as of November 20, 2020, using Embraer 175s
  • 4x weekly service to Fort Myers as of November 20, 2020, using 737s
  • Daily service to Tampa as of November 20, 2020, using 737s
  • 3x weekly service to Kona as of December 17, 2020, using 737s
  • 4x weekly service to Lihue as of December 18, 2020, using 737s

Alaska is launching seven new routes from LAX

Of these, what I find most interesting is the following:

  • Alaska is continuing to add flights to Tampa, complementing the existing Seattle service; Alaska will be going head-to-head against Delta and Southwest in this market
  • The Fort Myers route came as a surprise, as this will be the first nonstop flight between the West Coast and Fort Myers; given the lack of service from Southwestern Florida otherwise, along with the limited frequency, I could see this working

Alaska Airlines’ Florida expansion

In total Alaska Airlines is adding five new routes to Florida. There are the two routes above (from Los Angeles to Fort Myers and Tampa) and on top of that Alaska Airlines will add the following routes:

  • 4x weekly service from Portland to Fort Lauderdale as of November 20, 2020, using 737s
  • 4x weekly service from Seattle to Fort Myers as of November 21, 2020, using 737s
  • 3x weekly service from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale as of November 21, 2020, using 737s

Wowzers:

  • Alaska won’t just be launching one route to Fort Myers, but rather two routes, which is quite impressive
  • The Portland and San Diego service to Fort Lauderdale complements Alaska’s existing service to Fort Lauderdale from Los Angeles and Seattle

Alaska is launching five new routes to Florida

There are so many route surprises lately

This pandemic has crushed the airline industry, and most of us probably wouldn’t have expected many new route announcements or partnerships around this time. After all, we’d expect airlines to restore existing routes before launching new ones, given how slowly demand is recovering.

However, in many ways we’ve seen the opposite. While capacity as such hasn’t been added back fast, we’ve seen so many new route and partnership announcements from airlines.

From American Airlines’ expansion at SEA, to American Airlines’ expansion at JFK, to JetBlue’s expansion at LAX, there have been quite a few surprises throughout all of this. Here’s to hoping that creativity continues.

Both Alaska and JetBlue are expanding at LAX

Bottom line

It’s great to see Alaska Airlines expanding out of LAX, and also adding more Florida service. Alaska is adding a total of five transcon routes to Florida, including Fort Myers’ first-ever service to the West Coast.

It’s awesome to see this kind of expansion, especially since it comes as a surprise to most of us. Who would have expected this kind of growth during the biggest pandemic to ever hit the airline industry?

What do you make of Alaska Airlines’ new routes?

Comments
  1. I’m very doubtful that these O&D markets can support transcon routes…but hey it’s worth trying !

  2. More evidence to support my theory of AA scaling back domestic ops and feeding domestic traffic to partner airlines.

  3. The airlines and their route systems will some some real differences pre-Covid to say summer 2022. I’m not saying hubs will be dismantled (although one or two may), but airlines have been given the chance to redesign their business and their value proposition to their customers. And why not, their industry was so dramatically shut down why not take advantage of the new landscape and remake yourself.

  4. I thought Alaska would rather to fly between LAX and MCO since high traffic rather than two new randomly Florida cities (Tampa and Fort Myers).

  5. “Awesome” isn’t the word I’d use for 5-6 hour transcons in a cramped narrow-body plane. How about “horrible”? If AS flew anything that was vaguely comfortable over that distance, (e.g. A350 or 787), then it would be awesome.

    Also, none of Alaska’s planes have wheelchair-accessible toilets, as they aren’t required on narrow-body planes, so the proliferation of transcons on these planes is terrible for the disabled. (While this is a problem with all carriers, Alaska is one of the worst, as they have no wide-body jets at all.)

  6. Seeing routes mapped on great circle mapper is oddly satisfying haha

    Im excited about LAX to Florida and Kona.

  7. Don’t forget, Alaska still flies FLL-SFO seasonally, resuming November 20. That’s five routes from FLL to the West Coast.

  8. I actually fly every Christmas from LA to Fort Myers so i’m excited about this new route!

  9. I think its very logical – if you look at it from Hawaii’s hesitancy to allow anyone onto their islands, the lower cost of trips Florida I think it’s the kind of place people are going to want to go from the West coast to get some sun.

    Lee County in Southwest Florida, home to Sanibel-Captiva, Naples, Marco Island and Fort Myers Beach has some really lovely natural space, wildlife, super shelling and beaches for days! It has long been a winter destination for the rust belt (a lot of the flights to the Gulf Coast of FL line up TPA/SRQ/RSW/PGD) and can do the same for people who want something besides Central or South Florida.

  10. AS has apparently abandoned New Orleans. There had been 2X daily from SEA and one from SFO (I think). My brother flew those routes regularly, coming from FAI. He said they always seemed full. Now he’ll have no alternative to a 3 leg itinerary with AA into MSY.

  11. The LAX to EUG and MFR isn’t new per se, they used to fly that route but had to axe it a few years ago as Horizon was struggling with a pilot shortage on their Dash-8s (might also be true of Bozeman, I’m not sure). I guess pandemic has softened up the market for pilots so they can reintroduce some routes like this if there is demand.

  12. Now if they would launch a SEA-PBI id get excited. And launch a comfortable plane for transcons.

  13. LAX to MCO is already very saturated.

    I believe AA, DL, Jetblue, Frontier, and United already fly that route.

  14. LAX-MCO is highly saturated, but AS has opportunity with solid O&D traffic between Ft Myers and the West Coast and no existing competition. Smart play. Curious if airport offered any incentives as well.

  15. @K – The 787 isn’t vaguely comfortable, it’s almost as bad as the 737, at least in economy where most people fly.
    These days, all of Boeing’s planes are cramped in economy and imho, the 787 is also cramped in business.
    That said, first time in a Lufthansa A340 in business yesterday and it wasn’t great either.

  16. @ K

    Only wide body aircraft in the United States are required to have wchr accessible toilets

  17. Florida has the highest daily infections in the US so it makes perfect sense to expand there now.

  18. I fly to Ft. Myers from LAX every Christmas and spring, and being able to save almost six hours is the best present ever!

  19. Fort Myers is pretty viable. It serves one of the wealthiest region of Florida at this point. They will get a lot of high yield passengers out of Naples etc.

  20. Thanks Ryan. I miss the MFR to LAX flight badly. Retired lifetime AA platinum living in MFR area, i do most of my int’l flying out of LAX. New announcement of One World link up seriously helps me with my 7 figure FF miles. Have my MVP75k til e/o 2021. I’m ready to get back in the air, but no BIZ for me til service returns in full.

  21. RSW/TPA seems like the reverse direction of the original JetBlue JFK strategy of using red-eyes. Can a single airframe do a mid-morning LAX-HNL turning HNL-LAX, in time to hit a LAX-RSW red-eye with a 6:30 am RSW-LAX return? Four long flights in probably 29 hours, with just three 45 minute turns? If so, flying RSW just has to be more profitable than parking the plane overnight.

  22. Time for AS to be bought by AA. Or at least come up with a new name.
    How about: The Little Airline That Thinks It Invented First Class Airlines?

  23. I understand the concern about flying transcon in a narrow body aircraft, especially in the economy offering of most US carriers, but how many carriers have any wide body services, so what alternative is there? My most recent trip (and obviously not all that recent) was on an AA 737 MAX, and when booking the flight (on a QF ticket from SYD) I don’t recall any wide body options. My other recent trips to and from the east coast I have used QF11/12 which is a QF B787, and even on that, economy was still rather cramped. Premium economy was fine. Obviously QF is not an option for travel solely within the US.

  24. @k

    Southwest is obviously far larger than Alaska and also flies only narrow-bodied aircraft. And as many have rightly pointed out, few carriers schedule wide-bodied aircraft on domestic routes anyways. It’s often a specific, high-demand (and/or high-yield) route like JFK-LAX, or for repositionings.

    Finally, to some, the opportunity to now fly nonstop on a route that was previously not, qualifies as awesome to them. Sometimes the alternative is a 3 leg itinerary.

  25. @Mark5

    New name for Alaska Air or purchased by AA? Would never choose AA over AS for service or comfort. And, the Alaska name stands out due to the mystique of the 49th state. Rugged, majestic, adventure, experienced pilots flying in challenging conditions are concepts all conjured up by the Alaska name. Just say “Alaska” to someone who lives in NYC or Kansas and they begin dreaming. Lose the name and lose the DNA that is compelling on many levels. And, do you really believe AA management will produce stronger financials than AS management?

  26. Given their relative financial positions, Alaska purchasing AA rather than the other way around would be a more likely outcome.

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