Alaska upgrading fleet as it continues to diversify its business

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Despite low oil prices reducing exploration activity, Alaska Airlines is remaining positive as it upgrades its fleet.

The airline tells Air Cargo Week: “With the drop in fuel prices, we have seen a slowdown in oil exploration related activity in a number of places across our network. We foresee this trend continuing through 2016 as the oil industry continues to stay volatile in global supply.”

This year has started in a similar fashion to 2015, with a slight increase in the first quarter due to diversifying business. Domestic cargo is expected to improve this year as Alaska Airlines invests in new aircraft. It will bring three 737-700s online in early 2017, and retire its combi fleet.

“Changes within our own business model as well as investment in a new [Boeing] 737 -700F freighter fleet provides us the ability to build and grow new partnerships for the rest of this year as we begin to anticipate the arrival the first aircraft to arrive in early 2017 / late 2016.”

“The growth will come from added capacity for a number of markets we serve today as well as right sizing it for others and reallocating it for new growth during off-season times of the year.

“This growth will require us to look at our current cargo facilities and route structure to determine what best meets the needs of our customers and Alaska’s long-term strategic fit. We are excited about the opportunity this provides Alaska Airlines as the last remaining US legacy carrier with a cargo fleet.”

Though Alaska Airlines primarily serves the domestic market, it does have an extensive network in Mexico and Canada, and has started covering Costa Rica.

“Alaska Airlines is a major US carrier having a significant North America presence and partners that provide a global reach. Our focus within cargo is to support the airline as it grows which gives our cargo business a domestic US focus where Alaska Airlines flies and partnering where we can on connecting cargo throughout.”

The US and Cuba re-establishing diplomatic relations after over 50 years is also a great growth potential, with Alaska planning flights from Los Angeles to Havana.

“The relaxation of trade relations between the two countries will allow for greater cooperation for trade and is especially true from the state with the second highest Cuban population in the US.

“If successfully awarded, we fully intend to pursue the carriage of cargo on these flights which will tie Alaska Airlines entire network to the market.

“We see a great deal of opportunity for cargo traveling between Cuba and the US and look forward towards the opportunity to serve the market.”