Alaska Airlines has just announced its newest international route, which makes sense in light of a recently announced partnership.
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Alaska Airlines will fly to Toronto as of May 2024
As of May 16, 2024, Alaska Airlines will launch daily, year-round flights between Seattle (SEA) and Toronto (YYZ). The route will operate with the following schedule:
AS972 Seattle to Toronto departing 7:00AM arriving 2:40PM
AS973 Toronto to Seattle departing 3:40PM arriving 5:55PM
The 2,060-mile flight is blocked at 4hr40min eastbound and 5hr15min westbound. Alaska intends to use a Boeing 737-900ER for the route, featuring 178 seats. This includes 16 first class seats, 24 extra legroom economy seats, and 138 economy seats.
This will be the first time ever that Alaska operates flights between Seattle and Toronto. However, in the early 1990s, the airline flew between Los Angeles and Toronto, so it’s not the first time that the airline is serving the airport. Toronto will be Alaska’s sixth Canadian destination, complementing Calgary (YYC), Edmonton (YEG), Kelowna (YLW), Vancouver (YVR), and Victoria (YYJ).
The Seattle to Toronto route is currently served by Air Canada, which is the only competitor in the market.
Why Alaska Airlines is adding Toronto flights now
Historically, many US carriers have been hesitant to fly to Canada, despite its geographic proximity. For example, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, etc., all don’t fly to Canada. JetBlue has very limited service to Canada.
Why is that? The issue is that Canada has very high airport and government taxes. For example, a one-way flight from Canada to the United States comes with about $90 in government taxes and fees, including fees imposed by the US as well.
That’s not something that can’t be overcome, but many airlines decide they can better utilize their planes elsewhere, since they can’t necessarily pass on those full taxes to consumers, due to the competitive landscape. Furthermore, Canadian airlines have a competitive advantage when it comes to costs, given that the CAD is significantly weaker than the USD, so employees at Canadian airlines aren’t quite getting US pay rates.
Anyway, the timing for Alaska finally adding a (nearly) transcontinental flight to Canada makes sense. The Seattle-based oneworld carrier has launched a partnership with Porter Airlines, which is continuing to expand its network both within Canada, and in transborder markets. Now Alaska will have connectivity in Toronto for its service, which wasn’t previously the case.
Alaska Airlines will be adding a new flight between Seattle and Toronto, which is the first time the airline will be operating this route. This development comes as Alaska is launching a partnership with Porter.
While the partnership with Porter was initially billed as being about Alaska offering connectivity for Porter passengers in Los Angeles and San Francisco, it’s clear that this works in both directions, with Alaska also expanding to Porter’s Toronto hub.
What do you make of Alaska’s new flights to Toronto?