News

Delta to end year-round service in Juneau

JUNEAU, Alaska – Delta Airlines says it will no longer offer flights from Juneau in the fall and winter months because demand from Alaska residents at those times is low.

Mike Medeiros, Delta’s vice-president in Seattle, said the flights will end this year on Aug. 31. The airline will still offer flights in the spring and fall, The Juneau Empire reports (http://bit.ly/1UXESJc).

The Atlanta-based airline started flying between Juneau and Seattle during the spring and summer of 2014. The flights created competition, marking the first time in nearly 20 years that Alaska Airlines didn’t have a monopoly in the market. As a result, airfares on the route plunged from $500 to as low as $250. Fares to other cities also dropped.

In 2015, Delta decided to make flights between the two cities available year-round. But Medeiros said not enough Juneau residents chose to fly with Delta.

“It just wasn’t what it needed to be to even come close to breaking even,” he said.

During the summer months, Delta relies on passengers flying into Juneau. In the fall and winter, Medeiros said the airline counted on Alaska residents choosing Delta, but that did not happen.

“The fact of the matter is that residents have benefited from those lower fares, but they haven’t supported Delta,” Medeiros said. “If Alaska residents want competition then they need to support competition.”

With Delta reducing its operations later this year, travel expert Scott McMurren said fares between Juneau and Seattle will likely increase this fall and winter. But those looking to fly in the summer will still see lower rates, he said.

“They’re still serving the market during the summer, and that’s huge. It is huge for the travellers in Juneau to have any competitive pressure whatsoever, and I cannot overstate that,” McMurren said.

Medeiros said Delta continues to have seasonal flights to Seattle out of Ketchikan and Sitka.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com