PUBLISHED: 4:46 PM on Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Alaska Air would never drop Juneau run
I read with amusement Charles Westmoreland's dire warning that Juneau is one of 100 U.S. cities at risk of loosing air service due to escalating fuel prices.

On July 3, I went on and asked for the cheapest roundtrip ticket with a one month advance and a ten day stay for the following routes served by Alaska Airlines:

• Juneau to Seattle: $493. 886 miles, $0.56 per mile.

• Seattle to Hawaii: $753.40. 2667 miles, $0.28 per mile.

• Seattle to Washington, D.C.: $638. 2341 miles, $0.27 per mile.

• Seattle to Los Angeles: $306. 957 miles, $0.34 per mile.

• Seattle to Minneapolis: $414. 1503 miles, $0.28 per mile.

As a result of its monopoly power, Alaska Airlines is able to charge Juneau travelers twice as much per mile as it charges passengers on any route where it has competition. Although I don't have the statistics, I would be willing to bet that the percentage of empty seats is substantially higher for Alaska flights serving destinations with multiple carriers. Personally, I can't recall an Alaska flight in the last few years, regardless of time or season, that was not preceded by the familiar "we are expecting a full flight" announcement.

I strongly suspect that Mr. Westmoreland's warning was based on some generalization about the shaky prospects for continuing air service by major carriers to communities of less than 50,000. Although Juneau falls in this statistical category, the Seattle/Juneau run is Alaska Airline's cash cow. It is the last route that they would drop.

David C. Crosby, Juneau