Alaska Airlines Group Inc. (ALK - Analyst Report) has added a daily round-trip service from Seattle to Tampa, FL – a gradually expanding tourist destination. The nonstop year round service aims to save on passengers’ travelling time.
Located near the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa is popular for its white sand beaches and sunshine. It is also home to one of the popular theme parks of Florida, providing a perfect blend of nature’s therapy and entertainment opportunities. The Seattle-Tampa flight will introduce fliers from the usually cold Pacific Northwest to the warm beaches of Tampa, offering a pleasant variation from the more commonly visited Mexico or Hawaiian Islands.
Notably, Seattle-Tampa is the third busiest U.S. route carrying nearly 320 passengers daily. However, prior to Alaska Airlines’ latest offering, the much popular route lacked a non stop service. Alaska Airlines is using The Boeing Co.’s (BA - Analyst Report) 737 aircraft for the route. Meanwhile, Tampa International airport played its part by attracting Alaska Airlines with a fee waiver incentive, to start its non-stop service to the city.
By the end of next spring, Alaska Airlines plans to expand its Seattle departure by 11%, increasing the tally of daily flights from Tacoma International Airport to 280 from the current 253. The carrier has already introduced flights to New Orleans and Tampa as part of that plan and is set to launch new services further to Baltimore, Detroit, Albuquerque and Cancun by Nov 2014.
However, Seattle is gaining the attention of other traditional U.S. carriers like Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL - Analyst Report), which has been adding several international and domestic routes of late, and has been building the coastal city as a key part of its Pacific network restructuring. Recently, the carrier announced its plans to add popular skiing destinations like Spokane, Calgary and Bozeman from Seattle.
We believe this nonstop service will help Alaska Airlines attract more Tampa-bound passengers from Seattle, apart from adding new potential customers to the beach destination. We thus remain bullish on Alaska Airlines, which currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Another well-placed stock within the aviation sector is Southwest Airlines Inc. (LUV - Analyst Report), which carries the same Zacks Rank as Alaska Airlines.