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Alaska Airlines to Start Flights Between San Diego & Baltimore

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Alaska Airlines, the wholly owned subsidiary of Alaska Air Group (ALK - Free Report) , recently announced its intention to launch flights connecting San Diego and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The carrier intends to commence the daily non-stop flights from Mar 15, 2017.

Baltimore will now become the fourth East Coast destination to be connected with San Diego since 2012, through Alaska Airlines flights. The carrier already has flights connecting Baltimore with a couple of West Coast areas like Seattle and Los Angeles.

Alaska Airlines intends to utilize the fuel-efficient Boeing 737 aircraft to operate the flights between San Diego and Baltimore. Passengers on the flights will have access to all modern amenities. Tickets for the new flight service are already on sale. The announcement to add the new route is part of the carrier’s constant efforts to expand its operations.

Notably, Alaska Airlines strives to enhance the flying experience for its customers alongside adding newer routes. To attain the objective, the carrier recently announced its intention to launch a Premium Class section on Jan 5, 2017 on flights in select routes.

The carrier was also in the news when it revised its forecast for fourth quarter and full-year 2016 with respect to fuel cost per gallon. The carrier expects fuel cost for the fourth quarter to be $1.65 per gallon compared with $1.74 expected previously. For 2016, the metric is projected to decrease 20% year over year to $1.51 as against the previous forecast of $1.53.

Although optimistic about the company’s expansion initiatives, we believe that investor focus will remain on Alaska Air Group’s impending purchase of Virgin America . The deal was announced in April this year. Alaska Air Group had outbid JetBlue Airways (JBLU - Free Report) to seal the deal. However, the proposed merger has apparently run into rough weather.

Zacks Rank & A Key Pick

Alaska Air Group currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked stock in the airline space is Copa Holdings (CPA - Free Report) which sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). The 2016 Zacks Consensus Estimate has increased 11 cents to $4.68 over the last month for Copa Holdings. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.  

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