SEATTLE — American Airlines and Alaska Airlines said they will cooperate more closely on West Coast service, including new American flights from Seattle to India's technology hub in Bangalore.
The airlines already share revenue by selling seats on each other's flights, but they had planned to reduce that partnership next month.
Instead, they announced Thursday that they will ask the federal government for permission to expand revenue-sharing to cover international flights in Seattle and Los Angeles.
“By connecting American’s strength in long-haul international flying and Alaska’s presence across the West Coast, we will build a better network for our customers than either airline could build alone," said Robert Isom, president of American Airlines. "Together, we will deliver more value, benefits, and choice for customers across the U.S. and around the globe.”
American said it will begin flying to Bangalore in October. No U.S. airline currently flies there. Both American and Alaska say customers who travel for their jobs at U.S. technology companies are keenly interested.
“It’s one of Amazon’s largest travel markets out of Seattle,” said Brett Catlin, Alaska’s managing director of alliances, referring to the Seattle-based online retail giant.
Catlin said about 200 Alaska Airlines customers fly daily between the San Francisco Bay Area to Bangalore, and about 80 a day from Seattle — trips that currently require at least one stop.
American said it will also launch Seattle-London service next year, and could add other international destinations from Seattle.
Alaska will become a full-fledged member of oneworld, one of the three global alliances that dominate the industry. American is already a member.
Alaska hopes a closer tie-up with American will help it grow and start filling a gap in its service. The airline flies to Canada and Mexico from its hometown of Seattle, but it faces growing competition from Delta Air Lines, which has built an international gateway there with flights to Europe and Asia.
American, which is based in Fort Worth, Texas, has tried and failed before at flying to India. In 2012, when American was going through a bankruptcy reorganization, it dropped flights between Chicago and Delhi.
“The Indian market is much, much more mature than it was then,” said Vasu Raja, the airline’s senior vice president of network strategy. “There are so many U.S. companies with such big bases of operations in India, and Bangalore is one of the highest growing business markets for our corporate customer base.”