This article was originally published on BusinessInsider.com.
American Airlines and Alaska Airlines said on Thursday they plan to launch a new partnership, expanding an older arrangement with a new integrated agreement that the airlines are calling a "West Coast international alliance."
Alaska also plans to join the Oneworld airline alliance. American is a founding member.
American and Alaska already operate a codeshare agreement, which allows Alaska passengers to book an itinerary that includes flights operated by American, and vice versa. The agreement only covers certain flights under specific conditions.
Under the new agreement, the codeshare will be expanded significantly and will initially include American Airlines long-haul international flights from Seattle and Los Angeles. Additionally, members of both airlines' frequent flyer programs will be able to earn and use miles on all flights operated by the other airline — an expansion of a current agreement.
The codeshare is intended to expand access to international destinations flown by American, so that passengers in Alaska's market can connect to American Airlines long-haul flights, particularly at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.
In effect, the arrangement allows American to operate Seattle as an international hub, or gateway, without building up more of a domestic feeder network to the airport. As Delta increases its presence at the airport, the partnership with Alaska gives American a new leg up.
"This is a broad West Coast international partnership," Vasu Raja, American Airlines' senior vice president of network strategy, told Business Insider. "With this we'll be able to grow in Seattle and also in Los Angeles."
The move can also help American grow its passenger base at Los Angeles, offering a connecting network from the Northwest through Alaska.
"The codeshare will broadly take a few forms," Raja said. "One will be Alaska codesharing on American Airlines flights beyond our hub — for example they fly from the West Coast to Chicago and we fly beyond Chicago. The second will be Alaska codesharing on our long-haul services from Los Angeles and Seattle.
"The third form is American Airlines putting its code on Alaska Airlines for markets such as Austin to Seattle — Austin is a city where we have a huge presence," he added, while "the fourth is something like Alaska adding its code on a flight like Redmond, Washington, to Phoenix, where we can attract those customers near Redmond to connect in Phoenix."
Raja said that the expanded partnership would be introduced in phases.
"Just so we can be sure that the customer experience is as seamless and positive as possible. But we're keen to expand this thing, because the partnership of American and Alaska is something which is a huge benefit for all of our customers, and really enables the growth of both of us internationally and on the West Coast."
Additionally, American announced two new international routes from Seattle: Service to Bangalore, India, starting in October, and to London Heathrow starting in March 2021.
"Bangalore is the most requested market among all of our corporate clients on the West Coast, and in Austin, Raleigh, and Dallas-Fort Worth. It's one of the biggest business travel markets," Raja said. Flying from Seattle will allow the airline to use a Boeing 787-9 with a full passenger contingent, making the flight commercially viable despite the long distance, he added.
The distance between Seattle and Bangalore is nearly 8,100 miles.
Numerous tech and IT companies have offices in Bangalore, including Twitter, IBM, Amazon, Cisco, Deloitte, Dell, and Accenture, leading to a robust demand for travel to the southern Indian city, which is also known as Bengaluru.
"In Seattle, we'll be able to go and really pioneer markets that wouldn't be physically in the range of any of our other places or hubs, places like Bangalore and other markets in India, Asia, and maybe even further afield than that."
The codeshare will begin pending review from the US Department of Transportation, a spokesperson for the airline said.
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