MISSOULA — People who fly from from Missoula could find it easier to access international cities from Seattle and Los Angeles without changing carriers in a deal announced this week between Alaska and American airlines.
Both airlines serve Missoula with nonstop flights to Dallas/Forth Worth and Seattle. Alaska will also begin service from Missoula to Los Angeles in March and upgrade several flights from Missoula to a mainline jet.
The new partnership, announced Thursday morning, includes a codeshare that allows booking between the two networks on international routes from Seattle-Tacoma and Los Angeles international airports.
American Airlines will also launch two international routes from Seattle, including London and Bangalore, India. The London flight begins in March while the Bangalore flight began in October.
“Whichever airline you fly on, you can collect and use frequent flier miles on the other airline,” said Brian Ellestad, deputy director of Missoula International Airport. “I think it will open up quite a few international connections, where you can start your trip on one airline and end it on another. I think it’ll open up a lot more connection opportunities for our customers.”
At the same time, according to the announcement, Alaska will join the oneworld alliance – a network of 13 global airlines. That will make it easier for international travelers to make connections and enjoy the benefits of other member airlines.
“We’re thrilled to give our guests more choice, broader use of loyalty benefits, and seamless global service with American and oneworld,” Ben Minicucci, president of Alaska Airlines, said in a statement. “International service to global business and tech hubs Heathrow and Bangalore is a tremendous win for the growing Seattle region and the West Coast.”
It could also be a win for Missoula businesses, who have long pushed for expanded service and lower fares. And the partnership could benefit leisure travelers looking to get away.
The Missoula airport has set new passenger records in each of the past 10 years and has launched the first phase of a new $70 million passenger terminal. Alaska begins new service to Los Angeles on March 19 – the latest airline to expand service in the Garden City.
“The codeshare should open up a lot more additional connections out of LAX,” Ellestad said. “It’ll be interesting to watch to see if that happens.”
American Airlines also lauded the deal, saying new international connections from Seattle would benefit its existing routes from Los Angeles. The airline currently provides international connections from Dallas as well, which is served from Missoula.
“India is a grossly underserved market, despite the number of businesses with a major presence in both India and the West Coast,” said Vasu Raja, American’s senior vice president. “By adding Seattle to Bangalore, we’re giving customers from more than 70 U.S. cities access to India in one stop or less – versus the two, three or four stops they’d have to make to get there in the past.”