SEATTLE — Alaska Airlines and American Airlines announced they are forming an alliance to connect more of Alaska's domestic flights to international flights out of the west coast, including Sea-Tac International Airport.
Starting in October, American will offer the first U.S. direct flight to Bangalore, India, departing from Sea-Tac. Technology companies have been keenly interested in a direct flight to Bangalore.
American will also launch Seattle-London service, giving travelers another option to Heathrow Airport.
"It's a big deal. We have aircraft in the fleet to really serve the world," American Airlines President Robert Isom said. "Being stronger on the West Coast is incredibly important. The corporate customers in Seattle are just growing, and having a footprint that reaches to places like Bangalore and certainly into Europe."
In addition to the alliance, Alaska Airlines has applied for membership in OneWorld, which will bring it into further alliance with other carriers around the world including British Airways, Japan Airlines and others.
"As Seattle started growing at this rapid clip, we just see a real immediate need to really give our customers international options, really quickly," Alaska President Ben Minicucci said.
For the last five years, Alaska has focused on its domestic network, said Minicucci. After its merger with Virgin America, Alaska is now considered the fifth largest in the U.S. and the number one carrier on the West Coast.
While the alliance may go by many names -- Alaska, American, and OneWorld -- the idea is to get to a seamless booking system. Meaning in the months ahead, if you book a flight on Alaska's website, it means you will be automatically paired up with American or a OneWorld carrier to reach your final destination.
The alliances will also allow Alaska frequent fliers and credit card holders to use their miles to redeem flights on partner airlines.
The added service will put even more pressure on the busy Sea-Tac Airport. Last year brought in approximately 50 million passengers.