Empire Editorial: It's good to have options

Delta Air Lines’ announcement it would begin flights from Seattle to Juneau was a welcome early Christmas present for Juneau residents, even if folks will have to wait until May 29 for its first Seattle to Juneau flight.

Delta’s return to Juneau will provide more travel options for residents and visitors, despite the airline only offering one flight daily during warmer seasons. Having healthy competition between Delta and Alaska Airlines for our traveling dollars will likely lead to lower ticket prices for everyone, and may even encourage more travel to and from Juneau as a result of having cheaper airfares. In addition, having a Delta hub at the Juneau International Airport will provide more travel destinations without the need to purchase multiple tickets in order to reach locations currently not serviced by Alaska Airlines.

Delta and Alaska Airlines plan to continue their partnership moving forward, sharing a frequent flier mileage program and some flights. Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said Delta’s expansion to Juneau skies will not affect the companies’ partnership.

“When it makes sense, we compete; in other places, we have a partnership,” Egan said.

Delta announced that its Seattle-Juneau flights would be seasonal, however. So when it comes to flying, and landing, planes in inclement weather, Alaska Airlines may still have that niche locked down; their pilots are some of the best trained in the business. In fact, Juneau was used as a testing ground for the current navigation software used by many airlines today. Furthermore, pilots flying to and from Alaska can only do so if they have a special certification. What does this mean for consumers? Alaska flights are often able to take to the skies when other airlines find themselves canceling flights.

As much as our city wants and needs competition when it comes to airlines, we also need reliable, year-round service. Alaska Airlines has provided that since the 1930s and fortunately the company is planning on serving Southeast Alaska for another 80 years and beyond.

Even still, welcome Delta.

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