In a move that appears to take aim at Delta, Alaska Airlines and American will begin codesharing on America's long-haul network from the West Coast.
The agreement, which also includes enhanced mileage program sharing, will revive what for years had been a diminishing partnership between the two carriers.
Under the arrangement, announced Thursday, Alaska will begin placing its code on American's 10 long-haul routes from Los Angeles. American hopes that move will occur in the next few months, spokeswoman Nichelle Barrett said.
In addition, American will begin flying long-haul from Seattle, beginning with Bangalore, India, service in October of this year. Then in March 2021, American will launch Seattle-London Heathrow, a service that will complement the daily or twice-daily flights that the America/British Airways joint venture partnership already offers on that route using British Airways planes. Alaska will codeshare on both of those new routes.
In a related step, Alaska announced that it has applied for entry to the Oneworld alliance, of which American is a member. Alaska hopes to join Oneworld by summer 2021.
Alaska and American currently codeshare on 67 routes, Barrett said. But that number is down from the approximately 330 codeshares the carriers had in place prior to Alaska's 2016 acquisition of Virgin America. As part of approving that merger, anti-trust regulators at the Department of Justice required Alaska to end any codeshares with American on flights that both American and either Alaska or Virgin America were flying at the time.
Subsequently, the carriers further diminished codesharing while rolling back their loyalty program partnership.
Notably, prior to Thursday's announcement, American's AAdvantage program and Alaska's Mileage Plan program were slated to end all reciprocal reward redemption on March 1.
Those redemption opportunities will now continue uninterrupted. In addition, the carriers will begin offering reciprocal reward accrual on all flights this spring. And effective immediately, the carriers are offering reciprocal lounge access for Admirals Club and Alaska Lounge members.
With its long-haul entry into Seattle, American appears poised to engage with Delta. Seattle is the home base of Alaska, but on long-haul service, Alaska relies on codeshare partnerships to compete with Delta's international network from the city, where Delta maintains a hub. As such, American's launch of Seattle-Bangalore and Seattle-London will enable Alaska to bolster its competitive offering against Delta.
American's move comes as Delta makes a much larger play against American's Latin American network out of Miami. Delta recently entered into a partnership with South America's Latam and is adding Miami flights to feed that partnership. Previously, American and Latam were partners and dominated the Miami-Latin American marketplace.