Seattle ( TheStreet) -- Delta (DAL - Get Report), the world's third-biggest airline, is intruding on Alaska's (ALK - Get Report) Seattle hub, but so far neither Alaska nor investors nor analysts seem particularly worried.
Rather, analysts have been ratcheting up expectations for Alaska, one of four airlines that will report earnings on Thursday. Alaska split its stock two-for-one on July 10.
Before Delta began planning its Seattle buildup in 2013, its executives talked with Alaska about changes in the two carrier's code-share agreement. Those talks did not go well.
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Sources familiar with the negotiations between Alaska and Delta said that Delta didn't want Alaska to code share with Delta competitors in international markets.Delta's intent was to secure more favorable pricing for seats on Alaska flights and to assure seats were available for its code-share passengers, said one source, who added: "Delta wanted favorable pricing and better access to seats including group seats." Delta argued that the sale of code-share seats to its international competitors drove up the prorated price it paid for seats. Alaska argued that, even if it wanted to, it could not alter code-share arrangements with existing partners. Delta is believed to have argued that Alaska could terminate those arrangements early. Now, the sources said, Alaska is awaiting the end of its code-share with Delta in about two years. But in the meantime, on flights where the carriers do not compete, both continue to benefit from the arrangement "We remain open to finding ways to work with our long-time partner Delta," said Alaska spokeswoman Bobbie Egan. She declined to comment on the negotiations. Delta declined to comment. Delta, which began the year with 38 daily Seattle departures, now has 95 and shows no signs of slowing down. For its part, Alaska remains defiant, as well as profitable. Analysts have high expectations for Alaska, which benefits from its domestic focus at a time when international traffic -- particularly Delta's international traffic -- shows signs of weakening.
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