Alaska Airlines to close Nugget ticket office

May 1 closure is part of an effort to reduce operating costs

Posted: Thursday, February 06, 2003

Alaska Airlines will close its Nugget Mall city ticket office May 1, airline officials announced Wednesday.

The closure is part of an effort to reduce operating costs for the Seattle-based airline, which has suffered in the current economic downtown, along with the rest of the airline industry, officials said.

"We're faring better than most of the industry, but that does not mean we're doing good, that means we're doing less bad," said Jack Walsh, a spokesman for the airline. "We need to look at where we can economize."

The airlines will close one of the two city ticket offices in Anchorage as well as the office in Portland, Ore. Five city ticket offices will remain open.

Though the Nugget Mall outlet was the third most expensive ticket office for Alaska Airlines to operate, it consistently ranked fourth, fifth or sixth in terms of sales revenue. Its productivity was millions of dollars behind that of the airline's three largest ticket offices, at the Anchorage Sheraton, in downtown Seattle and in Bellevue, Wash., Walsh said.

The Nugget Mall office, which opened in 1977, has five employees. No employee will lose his or her job in the closings, Walsh said. The employees will transfer either to the Baranof ticket office downtown, which has two employees, or to the Alaska counters at the airport, which have 65 employees.

"The people at the (city ticket offices), their seniority mixes right in with the rest of our customer service agents at the airport," Walsh said. "We certainly don't anticipate any furloughs or anything."

Alaska Airlines makes 6.7 percent of its total sales revenue through city and airport ticket offices, and most of that revenue comes from airports, Walsh said. Traditional travel agencies bring 48.4 percent of Alaska Airline's ticket revenue, phone sales account for 16.4 percent, its Web site alaskaair.com for 21 percent and online ticket agencies 7.5 percent.

The airline plans changes for alaskaair.com "in the near future" that will make the Web site more usable for all customers, Walsh said.

Changes include allowing customers to book trips with more than six legs online, and reserve trips that involve travel with a partner airline, such as Northwest Airlines or American Airlines.

"What that will do is increase the abilities of alaskaair.com," Walsh said.

No date has been set for the changes, which will lead to fewer people using airport or city ticket offices, he said.

Christine Schmid can be reached at cschmid@juneauempire.com.



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