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Delta and Alaska getting cozy? CEOs like to hang out

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General Lee

Well-known member
Aug 24, 2002
Delta makes PDX nonstops to Amsterdam and Tokyo permanent, eyes Paris

Published: Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 6:59 PM Updated: Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 9:09 PM

Richard Reed, The Oregonian

Brent Wojahn/The OregonianRichard Anderson, Delta Air Lines CEO

Imagine the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Left Bank cafes just one hop from Portland.

Richard Anderson, chief executive of Delta Air Lines, can picture it.

Anderson, interviewed Tuesday at Portland International Airport raised the possibility of nonstop flights between PDX and Paris. He also said Portland's existing nonstops to Amsterdam and Tokyo -- which would have ended, if not for temporary subsidies -- are now permanent.

Anderson, in town with Alaska Airlines chief executive Bill Ayer to meet with customers, said if Alaska and Horizon keep helping to build Delta's business in Portland, flights to France could make sense.

"The next logical step is to connect Portland with our other hub in Europe: Paris," Anderson said.

A launch is not imminent, however, he said.

The Delta and Alaska chiefs visited Portland as their industry undergoes another wave of consolidation. Southwest Airlinesannounced Monday it would acquire Airtran. A merger between United and Continental is underway.

Airlines are beginning to catch an updraft, the executives said, amid the turbulent economic recovery. Delta, for one, is making profits.

Passenger counts at PDX were up about 2 percent, at 1.3 million, in August from the same month last year. Delta, Alaska and its sister carrier Horizon serve almost half the passengers at Portland's airport.

The Port of Portland, which operates the airport, subsidized Delta's Tokyo flights to the tune of $3.5 million, tiding the service through the recession and last winter's slow season. The gamble paid off, and Delta will continue the flights, which have been running close to full recently. "It was a pretty courageous thing on the part of the Port," Anderson said. "We banded together at a pretty difficult time."

Anderson said no new Asian flights are on Portland's horizon.

Ayer said Alaska Airlines is boosting its Hawaiian service in Portland. It flies to Maui and began daily Portland-Honolulu service Sept. 20. It will begin service to Kona on Nov. 12.

"Since April we've added service to 11 markets, with constant fleet size," Ayer said. Planes were moved from underperforming markets, he said, without losing routes.

Delta faces new competition at home in Atlanta as Southwest takes over AirTran there. But Southwest's costs are higher than those of AirTran, and Southwest won't offer a business cabin, meaning Delta could actually benefit, said Michael Boyd, an aviation analyst in Colorado.

Delta's major competition is from foreign carriers, which now carry most traffic to and from the United States, Anderson said. At home, Delta managers face a union vote, as flight attendants decide on representation.

Anderson took the chance to talk up the airline industry's safety record. He also defended the proliferation of charges for such things as checked bags, saying other entities -- such as hotels -- offer optional services.

Anderson said he would look into a July incident in which a Portland plane bound for Amsterdam made an emergency landing in Goose Bay, Labrador, due to mechanical problems. Passengers from that flight remain disgruntled, although a Delta spokesman said Tuesday they have received full refunds.

Anderson said the Delta-Northwest Airlines merger is complete, describing it as the industry's most successful combination. He said Delta's partnership with Alaska is also crucial, especially in Portland.

"I just want to be as good," Anderson said, "as Alaska Airlines."

William S. Ayer, 56
Chairman, CEO, Alaska Air Group
Leads: Nation’s ninth-largest airline, with 10,000 employees, 59 destinations and more than 110 aircraft
Began at Alaska Airlines: in 1995, as vice president of marketing and planning.
Previous jobs: Horizon Air, Air Olympia, Piper Aircraft Co.
Education: Stanford University, economics; University of Washington, MBA.
Activities: As a private pilot, flies Angel Flight West patients to their medical treatments.

Richard H. Anderson, 55
Delta Air Lines CEO
Leads: International carrier with 75,000 employees, 354 destinations and more than 700 aircraft.
Began at Northwest Airlines: in 1990, in positions including deputy general counsel.
Other jobs: Continental Airlines, UnitedHealth Group.
Education: University of Houston, South Texas College of Law.
Boards: Cargill Inc., Medtronic Inc., Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Regardless my pals, YOU ARE ALL FANTASTIC PEOPLE. YOU ALL ARE WAY COOL IN MY BOOK! If you have time today, try to be nice to someone or something, like when you see a waitress who just got stiffed from a tip. Give her a couple extra bucks ontop of the 50 cents you were going to give her, and tell her "job well done Miss." See ya!

Bye Bye--General Lee
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Several years ago when I was a newhire RJ FO at Eagle I had a part-time job as a waiter in BOS. It was a pretty decent restaurant downtown and one day Richard Anderson (then CEO of NWA) came in for a late lunch with Gerald Grinstein (then CEO of DAL). I thought it was pretty cool, but didnt think too much of it. This was long before any merger talks came public, so I had no reason to think anything more of it. They had a bottle of wine and I believe the London Broil. And left a decent tip!
Correct me if I'm wrong (which goes without saying on FI), but if AS and DL were really in merger talks, the CEOs wouldn't be publicizing their meetings. Remember that press release a few months ago about Rob and Gary getting together? Neither do I. There probably wasn't any press about GG and RA getting together for dinner in BOS either.

At this point, I'd believe rumors and union meeting sightings a la APA meeting with Jetblue's pilot association.
The little announcement they made together doesn't really seem like a reason for them to have been together in pdx. Guess time will tell but I bet they were talking about more than that. Not a lot of pieces left of this puzzle. Wouldn't be surprised to see a rush to grab what's left.

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