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Alaska Air Says It's Holding Its Own Against Delta Onslaught

An Alaska Airlines 737 plane.
Alaska Airlines
An Alaska Airlines 737 plane.

The intensifying competition between Alaska Airlines and rival Delta Air Lines in the Western skies does not seem to be hurting the bottom line of either company.

Seattle-based Alaska Air posted a record second quarter profit Thursday, a day after Delta toasted its own high earnings.

But Alaska executives are still showing concern about a flood of new seats on their home turf.

Delta Air Lines is rapidly adding domestic and international flights at Seattle's airport as it builds up a new Pacific gateway there. Much of that new service overlaps with Alaska Airlines.

Andrew Harrison, Alaska's senior vice president for planning, told Wall Street analysts that his carrier is holding its own.

"Our second quarter results give us confidence we are on the right track," Harrison said.

He said his airline is planning more aggressive advertising, improvements to food and wine offerings, and to strengthen its frequent flier program.

"We are making some tactical schedule adjustments to increase our flying in some of these markets to defend our franchise," he said. "This may have short-term impact. But we believe the water will find its level eventually. We are confident these are the right actions for us."

Wall Street seems less confident. Alaska Air Group Inc. stock plummeted 9.4 percent over the course of Thursday's trading, to close at $45.03 per share.

During a briefing call for Wall Street analysts Wednesday, Delta's president Ed Bastian called out the good performance at its new Seattle gateway. He said his airline's new flights are "doing well" revenue-wise.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.