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Originally published April 25, 2014 at 1:35 PM | Page modified April 25, 2014 at 6:27 PM

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Alaska Air posts record Q1 profit, but cautious on Delta

Seattle-based Alaska Air Group reported record first-quarter earnings on Friday, but CEO Brad Tilde acknowledged pressure from the increased presence of Delta Air Lines in Seattle.


Seattle Times business reporter

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Seattle-based Alaska Air Group reported record first-quarter earnings on Friday, but CEO Brad Tilden acknowledged pressure from the increased presence of Delta Air Lines in Seattle.

The parent of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air saw its first-quarter net income more than double to $94 million, or $1.35 per share, compared to $37 million, or 51 cents per share, a year earlier.

“Today marks another milestone for Alaska. It wasn’t that many years ago that we created an objective of simply not losing money in the first quarter,” Tilden said during a conference call Friday.

Tilden said the airline benefited from traffic generated when other airlines canceled flights due to weather conditions. However, in response to questions from analysts, he said there is concern over increased competition from Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.

“We do have a fair bit of overlap with Delta,” he said on the call. “This is a very important sort of strategic area that the company is focusing on.”

Delta this summer will start flights between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and some of Alaska’s high-traffic cities, including Anchorage and Juneau. Delta has also recently added flights from Seattle to London, and many new routes will start this summer, including flights to Hong Kong, Seoul and San Jose, Calif.

Alaska said its operating revenues grew 8 percent to $1.2 billion, while operating expenses rose 1 percent.

While many costs rose, the company reported a 23 percent decrease in aircraft maintenance expenses, dropping from $66 million to $51 million.

Despite the record first-quarter income, Alaska shares fell $1.32, or 1.4 percent, to $93.43 Friday. However, most airline stocks were down even more for the day.

The stock is trading near its all-time high of $96.77.

Coral Garnick: 206-464-2422 or cgarnick@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @coralgarnick



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