Image: David Parker Brown / AirlineReporter.com. Press Release: In response to sequestration budget cuts, Alaska Airlines is recommending that customers check the status of their flight before leaving for the airport and allow additional time to check in when traveling to or from Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Newark, San Diego and San Francisco. The Federal Aviation Administration plans to furlough air traffic controllers starting Sunday, which the agency predicts could cause extensive ground delays ranging from 50 minutes to two hours and a reduction in flight arrivals of 30 to 40 percent at certain airports. Alaska Airlines does not intend to pre-cancel any flights. The carrier is recommending that customers arrive at the airport two hours before departure for domestic flights and three hours before departure for international flights. Connection time between flights, especially when arriving from Mexico or Canada, may be challenging as travelers will need to clear customs and immigration. Travelers booking future flights are encouraged to allow adequate connection times in case air traffic delays continue. "While we hope the impact of these FAA furloughs does not cause massive flight delays across the country, it is with an abundance of care for our customers that we caution them—especially travelers flying to or from Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco where we have several daily flights," Alaska Airlines Chief Operating Officer Ben Minicucci said. Minicucci said the airline has contingency plans in place to divert flights and shuttle passengers to and from nearby airports should widespread delays occur. The airline will allow passengers who miss flights to rebook their travel when space is available, with no increase in fare or change fee. While the FAA says ground delays are expected to impact six airports Alaska Airlines serves, rolling delays could affect the carrier's entire 95-city operation and cause crew scheduling issues that would force the cancellation of dozens of flights. The airline is encouraging the public to share their feedback about the FAA's staffing cutbacks at www.dontgroundamerica.com. Alaska Airlines operates more than 800 flights a day including an average of: •38 daily roundtrip flights to/from Los Angeles •20 daily roundtrip flights to/from San Diego •16 daily roundtrip flights to/from San Francisco • 5 daily roundtrip flights to/from Chicago •2 daily roundtrip flights to/from Newark •1 daily roundtrip flight to/from Fort Lauderdale

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter.com

The relationship between Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines has just become a bit more intense. Alaska has confirmed that they are looking for different vendors to help with airport operations at 13 stations, services that Delta currently provides. This appears to be something that Alaska was already planning, but Delta has sped up the timeline.

“We have been considering a change in vendors who provide passenger service, ground handling, cargo, and deicing at various locations for some time now,” an Alaska Airlines spokesperson told AirlineReporter.com. “This is something we routinely do to ensure our costs and services for our customers are being optimized. Delta notified us last Friday that it has elected to discontinue these service agreements with Alaska Airlines effective March 31,2014.  This change will affect 13 stations, 6 cargo offices, and various deice locations, and simply speeds up the transition we’d been planning.”

This comes after Delta had announced additional service to Seattle, where Alaska Airlines is based.

This story will be updated with additional information.

Convair 580

One of Nolinor’s Convair 580s on the ramp at Rouyn-Naranda – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

April 1956 represented a different era in aviation. Local service airlines were popular, fares were regulated, and people still dressed-up to fly. It was also when the three hundred thirty-fourth Convair 440 rolled off the assembly line to start service with Canadian regional airline Time Air.

The Convair 440 was built to American Airlines’ specifications to serve as a pressurized DC-3 replacement. It was equipped with Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp engines and three-bladed propellers, weather radar and a few other features that distinguished it from the original 240s.

After entering service, the Allison Engine Company (now a division of Rolls Royce) devised an offering to re-engine Convair 440s with T56 turbines (the same engine as the Lockheed C-130, P-3 Orion, and Electra II). This added thousands more shaft horsepower, and allowed for not only greater range, but a higher cruising altitude. The conversions were done by Pacific Airmotive and could be done in as short as sixty days.

Time Air sold line number 334 to Canair Cargo, who proceeded to park it in 1998. Nolinor Aviation purchased the airframe and converted it back to passenger use later that year. Throughout the years, the registration has remained the same; C-FTAP. Recently, I had the opportunity to fly on this classic bird.

Japan Airlines became the A350 XWB’s first Japanese customer with a purchase agreement for 31 aircraft – composed of 18 A350-900s and 13 A350-1000s - Image: Airbus

Japan Airlines became the A350 XWB’s first Japanese customer with a purchase agreement for 31 aircraft – composed of 18 A350-900s and 13 A350-1000s. Image: Airbus

Japan Airlines (JAL) today announced that for the first time in the carrier’s history, they are making a purchase from Airbus.  Previously, the airline had been an entirely Boeing customer, apart from operating some A300s they had for a short period of time after the merger with Japan Air System. JAL currently operates both their long-haul and domestic fleets with a mixture of 737s, 767s, 777s & of course the 787 Dreamliner.

The Airbus order was made up of 31 A350 XWB’s (18 of the 900 model, 13 of the 1000) with a further option of 25. This is also the first time that a Japanese airline has ordered the aircraft type.

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-700 at SeaTac Airport - Photo: Don Wilson | Port of Seattle

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-700 at SeaTac Airport – Photo: Don Wilson | Port of Seattle

So, everybody and their brother has been writing about the recent announcement from Delta Air Lines that they’re further expanding their domestic flight schedule out of Seattle (SEA).  There have been stories from mainstream media, miles/points bloggers, and (of course) industry watchers such as ourselves.  Yet, we wanted to talk amongst ourselves and digest the information before weighing in.

Why is this a story?  It’s because Alaska Airlines (AS), which is based out of Seattle, is supposed to be a partner airline with Delta.  All three of the recently announced Delta routes are in direct competition with Alaska; actually 8 of Delta’s 13 domestic routes out of Seattle compete with Alaska.

As a guy who grew up in Washington State, and went to college at the University of Washington, I hold a special place in my heart for Alaska.  An all-Boeing 737 operator, they have a loyal following in the Northwest.  I just flew Alaska to and from Denver, and enjoyed their solid customer service, low-priced First Class upgrades, and great ground experience out of Seattle.  (Although, as seems to be common from Denver, I got stuck on the Disneyland plane – am I the only one freaked out by flying on this bird?!).