Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden

Alaska Airlines (ALK - Get Report) , poised to become the country's fifth-biggest airline, doesn't have a single long-haul international route and doesn't plan to start any.

"Deploying our capacity in domestic and working with our international partners is a really successful strategy," said Alaska CEO Brad Tilden in a brief interview. "There's no reason to change it."

Tilden added, however, "There's not any value in making predictions about mid-term and long-term."

Like Southwest, which also does not fly long-haul international, Alaska operates a fleet that is composed entirely of Boeing 737s. Alaska flies 155 of them.

Tilden referred to a favorite Alaska statistic regarding the carrier's international partners: Of all the long-haul international seats flown from the U.S. across the Atlantic and across the Pacific, 44% are flown by Alaska partners.

Alaska lists 13 international partners: Aero Mexico, Air France, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Fiji, Hainan, Japan Airlines, Icelandair, KLM, Korean Air, LAN and Qantas.

If regulators approve a planned merger between Alaska and Virgin America (VA) , then Virgin America's two additional international carriers -- Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia -- would likely be added to the list.

The merger would put Alaska on the road to being a fifth national airline: It would carry about 7% of all U.S. passengers, up from about 4.5% today.

Under a partnership agreement, Emirates, which operates twice daily between Seattle and Dubai, provides "a couple of hundred" passengers to Alaska, said Joe Sprague, senior vice president for communications and external relations.

One result is that Alaska hasn't  joined with the big three U.S. airlines in seeking to slow down the growth of the big three Gulf airlines -- Emirates, Etihad and Qatar.

Rather, it has followed a course similar to what JetBlue (JBLU - Get Report) has done at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport as well as at Boston Logan Airport, signing partnerships with a wide variety of international partners. JetBlue has about three dozen international partners, including all three Gulf airlines.

"We recognize that if you live on the West Coast, we have a fantastic {domestic} network," Sprague said. "But our customers do have international needs, and we focus on this."

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.