Delta Air Lines is taking on Alaska Airlines with five new flights to Alaska. One of the big winners in the new service expansion is Anchorage, which will see plenty of nonstop service to the lower 48 contiguous United States. The other Alaska destinations getting service this summer are Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka.
Delta expands in Alaska
Delta Air Lines will be expanding service across the state with connections to the lower 48 states. Joe Esposito, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Network Planning, stated the following on the new Alaska flights:
“Delta is looking forward to offering more premier outdoor destinations this summer, including more options to travel to the beautiful state of Alaska, as well as providing access to the lower 48 and beyond through seamless and convenient connections over our hubs. Our extensive network is bolstered by Delta’s commitment to award-winning hospitality, more seat-back entertainment and as always, the health and safety of everyone on board.”
Anchorage emerges a big winner
Out of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC), Delta will add new weekend service to its hubs in Detroit (DTW), Los Angeles (LAX), and New York (JFK) starting from May 28th. From June 19th, Delta’s largest gateway to Alaska, Seattle (SEA), will have seven daily round trips to Anchorage. Seattle to Anchorage is served year-round by Delta.
Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) will get three daily nonstop flights to Anchorage. The third daily flight between Minneapolis and Anchorage will start on May 5th. Also, starting that same day, Delta will offer a year-round nonstop flight from Salt Lake City (SLC) to Anchorage, with a summer seasonal second daily flight starting on June 19th.
And, lastly out of Anchorage, Delta will resume daily service from May 5th. Marking the longest nonstop flight out of Anchorage, Delta will fly this route using a Boeing 767-300ER featuring Delta One lie-flat seats. In the fall, Delta will drop this down to three trips per week.
The other flights out of Minneapolis, Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles will run on Boeing 737-800, Boeing 737-900ER, and Boeing 757-200 jets. While Delta does have a premium Boeing 757 with lie-flat Delta One seating, it appears these flights will run with the standard recliner-style Boeing 757s.
This is welcome news for Anchorage, as the airport has sought expanded service from passenger carriers. Though it is not Delta turning the airport into a connecting hub, the expanded service will allow the airport to tout its new connections across the lower 48, especially to New York City. Anchorage currently gets global nonstop service, but mostly from cargo carriers.
Fairbanks gets expanded service
From the summer, Delta Air Lines will offer six nonstop flights from Fairbanks to its hubs. On May 5th, a new daily nonstop will run from Salt Lake City to Fairbanks International Airport (FAI).
A third daily nonstop flight will start from Seattle to Fairbanks starting on June 19th. And, out of Minneapolis, Delta will run a second daily nonstop flight from June 19th.
In addition to the new flights, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City to Fairbanks service are being extended to year-round service. Both of these are large hubs for Delta, so passengers will be able to connect from across the US and the world to Fairbanks.
Fairbanks services will also operate on a mix of larger aircraft. This is likely to include aircraft like the Boeing 737-900ER. Delta will offer a recliner-style first class, extra-legroom economy, and standard economy. Delta’s mainline aircraft feature seatback entertainment and WiFi.
Delta returns to secondary cities in Alaska
Summer seasonal service from Seattle will run to three additional cities in Alaska. These cities will see service from Memorial Day weekend at the end of May through the end of September.
Delta will operate one daily flight to Juneau International Airport (JNU) from Seattle. This flight to the capital of Alaska will run with a Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
In addition, Seattle will get one daily service to Ketchikan (KTN) and Sitka (SIT). Both of these secondary cities in Alaska will see service on SkyWest-operated Embraer E175 service under the Delta Connection banner.
These cities typically get seasonal service from Delta, and the airline is bringing them back in time for the summer.
Taking on Alaska Airlines
Unsurprisingly, the largest airline to and from the state of Alaska is Alaska Airlines. Alaska has a new, deeper partnership with American Airlines that is leading the two airlines to expand significantly out of Seattle. American is coming in with new flights to India, China, and London complemented by Alaska’s massive domestic network out of Seattle.
In the last few years, Delta has been building up a hub out of Seattle for mostly transpacific flights. The airline appeared to have a leg up on Alaska thanks to the latter’s lack of long-haul international flights. But, with Alaska and American’s tie-up, Delta has to put up a significant fight.
Alaska is a market that is getting a lot of renewed attention from US airlines and passengers who are otherwise barred from a lot of international flying. While Alaska primarily gets many cruise passengers to Alaska, the pandemic has taken a lot of those cruises offline and pushed them off at least a year. In fact, sensing rising demand, American Airlines even plans to fly the Dreamliner to Alaska.
However, passengers are still willing to go to Alaska, and Delta wants to put up a fight for those travelers. The airline has historically had a sizable presence out of Anchorage, but it has been dwarfed by and will continue to be smaller than Alaska Airlines out of the state. Nevertheless, the airline can still be a thorn in Alaska’s side.
Will you fly any of Delta’s expanded service to Alaska? Let us know in the comments!