Alaska Airlines alliance with Delta evolves into ‘frenemies’

Alaska Airlines jet at the Juneau International Airport

(Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

A business partnership involving Alaska and Delta airlines is fraying around the edges.  The two companies have turned into what some would call “frenemies.”

Alaska Air Group and Delta Air Lines signed a long term partnership in 2008.  Both sides agree it’s been a profitable alliance.  The carriers feed connecting traffic to each other, coordinate some schedules and offer reciprocal frequent flier benefits.  But Delta clearly ruffled some feathers at Alaska Airlines this fall.  Delta added new flights from the Pacific Northwest to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden says his company will aggressively defend what it considers core markets.

Brad Tilden: “Alliances can be complicated. It’s likely that in the future there will be markets where it is in our interest to work together with Delta and there will be markets where we will compete because it is in the best interest of Alaska Air Group to do so.”

During a regular conference call to discuss earnings, Tilden said his airline is on track to book a record profit in 2013.