Alaska Airlines announced today that it will end flights from Dallas-Love Field to New York-LaGuardia and Washington-Reagan. Instead they will lease the available slots at the two East Coast airports to Southwest Airlines.
This move comes as Alaska Airlines finalizes its merger with Virgin America, from whom it originally inherited the slots to LGA and DCA. The flights to New York LaGuardia and Washington Reagan were launched in 2014 after Virgin was able to secure two gates at Dallas Love Field which enabled them to expand their operations to the two slot-restricted airports.
Virgin America previously had operated Airbus A319/A320 aircraft between Dallas-Love Field and these two cities, but Alaska Airlines converted them to regional routes using Embraer 175-LRs operated by its regional subsidiary, SkyWest Airlines. Alaska has also added daily nonstop flights from Dallas Love to Portland, San Jose, and San Diego, and two daily flights to Seattle, all operated on E-175s. It continues to operate between two and three daily flights from DAL to SFO and LAX, depending on the day of the week, using Virgin America Airbus A320s.
This will effectively end Alaska Airlines service at New York LaGuardia airport. It’s service to Dallas-Love Field is the only station offered from LGA, although the carrier does operate flights from New York-JFK and Newark airports. From Newark, Alaska flies to Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose, CA. From New York-JFK, Alaska flies to Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Las Vegas, along with seasonal service to Palm Springs. It will also launch service to San Jose, CA, in July.
At Reagan/National airport in Washington, Alaska will continue to fly to Seattle (2x), San Francisco, Portland, and Los Angeles (1x each), where it currently has ten slots to operate these beyond-perimeter routes. The perimeter limitation of 1,250 statute miles grants exceptions to 20 routes from DCA, operated on Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, United, and Southwest. From Washington Dulles International airport (IAD), Alaska flies to San Francisco (3x), Los Angeles (2x) and Seattle (1x).
Since the LGA-DAL and DCA-DAL flights fall within the perimeter rule, there will be no need for Alaska to return these slots to the FAA to help orchestrate any re-allocation activities. Rather, Alaska can freely lease them out. It will lease six slot pairs at LGA and four at DCA, allowing for Southwest to fly up to six and four daily flights, respectively, from each of these airports.
It is unclear which markets Southwest will choose. The Dallas-based carrier currently flies year-round from LaGuardia to Atlanta, Chicago-Midway, Dallas-Love, Denver, Houston-Hobby, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Nashville, St. Louis, and Tampa, and seasonally to Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, Phoenix, and San Antonio. From Reagan, Southwest flies year-round to Atlanta, Austin, Chicago-Midway, Columbus, Dallas-Love, Fort Lauderdale, Houston Hobby, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, Omaha, Orlando, Providence, St. Louis, and Tampa. It also flies seasonally to Fort Myers.
Aside from speculation over whether Southwest will add new markets from LGA/DCA and/or beef up frequencies of existing routes, it will also be interesting to see what Alaska does at Love Field moving forward. It may opt to add more frequencies to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, San Jose, or San Diego, or it may consider new markets.
More than anything, it is interesting to see the two carriers work in tandem on the East Coast as the battle for the West Coast heats up. Southwest announced that it would be launching service from Seattle’s Paine field sometime in the fall, although markets and frequencies have not been announced yet.