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What’s Next for the Alaska-Hawaiian Airline Merger

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What’s Next for the Alaska-Hawaiian Airline Merger


Skift Take

Today’s podcast looks at the Alaska Air-Hawaiian Air combo, American Air’s tussle with travel agents, and an investment in Travelport.

Good morning from Skift. It’s Tuesday, December 5. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Alaska Air Group said it would buy Hawaiian Airlines in an all-cash transaction valued at $1.9 billion, including Hawaiian’s debt. The parent company of Alaska Airlines and regional Horizon Air said it would continue to operate Hawaiian as an independent brand, reports Edward Russell, editor of Skift publication Airline Weekly. 

The proposed merger isn’t a sure thing, given that it faces antitrust review by the Biden Administration. Analysts noted that JetBlue recently attempted to merge with Spirit Airlines, but that deal has since been mired in legal review. 

Given that the route networks of Alaska and Hawaiian wouldn’t lead to the same concentration as the networks of JetBlue and Spirit, the probability is higher that the Alaska-Hawaiian deal will go through, reports Russell.

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Next, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) and American Airlines are going head-to-head in a complaint before the U.S. Department of Transport (DOT). 

The debate hinges on whether American Airlines has been wrong to withhold about 40% of fare inventory from travel agencies that fail to adopt its preferred booking technology, reports Selene Brophy, Skift’s experiences reporter.

Last month, American Airlines defended itself to regulators about its assertive push of the so-called new distribution capability while accusing travel agents of standing in the way of innovation. 

Skift asked ASTA for the group’s response, which it published on Monday exclusively. ASTA said, “What’s lacking from American Airlines’s response is how atrocious their workflow is for new reservations.” 

“We fully support the adoption of modern retailing methods when the necessary technologies are ready and in place, and we’re thankful for other airline partners who recognize that and have taken a more responsible approach.”

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The complaint is under review by U.S. regulators, with a response expected next year.

Finally, Travelport said Monday that it had raised $570 million in new equity from investors, writes Skift tech reporter Justin Dawes. 

The world’s third-largest travel technology company will add new major backers, including Davidson Kempner Capital Management and Canyon Partners, to its existing equity stakeholders, Siris Capital and Elliott Investment Management.

With this new investment, Travelport will have a stronger balance sheet with the least debt amongst its peers, it said. Travelport competes with larger peers Amadeus and Sabre in helping travel agencies book flights from airlines. Once again, as with the other two stories of the day, the travel industry waits for regulators to decide what to do.

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Alaska

Alaska plans to ease rules on state purchases without multiple price quotes • Alaska Beacon

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Alaska plans to ease rules on state purchases without multiple price quotes • Alaska Beacon


The state of Alaska is planning to raise the maximum size of bid-free purchases from $10,000 to $25,000. This would allow employees with state agencies to make buying decisions without seeking multiple price quotes. 

In a public notice published Feb. 23, the Alaska Department of Administration said it’s planning the move in response to state agencies’ request for action “to ease the cost of administrative burden on executive branch agencies due to inflation and rising costs.”

Mindy Birk, chief of policy for the Office of Procurement and Property Management in the Department of Administration, said the idea came about during a meeting of the state’s administrative services directors.

The commissioners of state agencies may set limits for their employees below the $25,000 figure, she said. The $25,000 amount will be the new statewide maximum.

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Under existing administrative code, state procurement officers need to get at least three price quotes in writing or verbally when buying “supplies, services, professional services, or construction” worth between $10,000 and $50,000. If the price is higher than that, the quotes must be in writing. 

The proposed regulation change would raise the lower limit to $25,000, which would allow purchasing officers to spend up to that amount without bids.

Public comments on the change are being accepted through 4:30 p.m. March 27.

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Passengers sue Alaska Airlines for $1 billion after door plug blow-out flight

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Passengers sue Alaska Airlines for $1 billion after door plug blow-out flight


Three passengers are suing Alaska Airlines and Boeing for $1 billion after a “negligent” cabin panel blowout mid-flight in January.

Portland couple Amanda Strickland and Kyle Rinker along with a third passenger, Kevin Kwok, were onboard the terrifying flight 1282 from Portland to Ontario, California when the unused exit door blew off at 16,000ft.

The trio, who were seated in the row behind the door plug, are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

The lawsuit says: “As a direct result of the frightful, death-threatening failure of the Boeing aircraft, Mr Kwok, Mr Rinker, and Ms Strickland suffered severe mental, emotional, and psychological injuries, including post-traumatic stress, and physical injuries.”

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Their attorney, Jonathan W. Johnson, told local news channel KGW-TV: “The issue with Alaska [Airlines], on this particular aircraft, they had several warnings, air pressure monitor warnings. In fact, I think they had said this aircraft couldn’t fly over water.

“I think some of their problems recently is that they outsource some of the manufacturing, and even if they have adequate safety protocols at Boeing, when they use third-party contractors, they aren’t necessarily making sure that the contractors follow the same safety protocols. So you could have a contractor send in a part that is not meeting those safety protocols.”

A shirt, iPhones and other items were sucked out of the aircraft during the “life-changing” 5 January event, before the flight made an emergency landing.

Boeing manufactured the 737 Max 9 planes – grounded in the aftermath of the incident until they had passed inspection – with several of the models reported to have loose hardware and missing key bolts to hold the door in place.

Several other passengers, including seven plaintiffs previously offered $1,500 in compensation, sued Boeing in January for the emergency. They alleged that those on board suffered from bleeding ears, bruises and headaches.

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Daniel Laurence, the attorney representing the plaintiffs said: “This nightmare has caused economic, physical and ongoing emotional consequences that have understandably deeply affected our clients, and is one more disturbing black mark on the troubled 737-Max series aircraft.”

An Alaska Airlines representative said that the company could not comment on pending litigation.



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Adored by visitors and protected by locals, Patsy Ann was the canine queen of Juneau

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Adored by visitors and protected by locals, Patsy Ann was the canine queen of Juneau


Part of a continuing weekly series on Alaska history by local historian David Reamer. Have a question about Anchorage or Alaska history or an idea for a future article? Go to the form at the bottom of this story.

On July 2, 1935, the S.S. Yukon of the Alaska Steamship Co. pulled into Juneau with its regular assortment of wide-eyed, world-hopping vagabonds. As most of the tourists aboard crowded the deck and windows, Laddie Kyle, an experienced traveler, instead slept in her cabin. She was familiar with Alaska, and Alaskans were familiar with her. Nearly a decade prior, she tried to stow away on a polar expedition flight out of Fairbanks but was discovered when pilot Carl “Ben” Eielson threw a bag on her. In her cabin, she snoozed happily until suddenly jolted from her slumber. A white bull terrier was barking on the dock directly below her cabin porthole. This was Patsy Ann, the official greeter of Juneau. Only now had Kyle truly arrived.

Patsy Ann arrived in Juneau sometime around 1930. Her obituary claimed that she had been previously owned by “Dean and Mrs. C. E. Rice.” Yet, by the early 1930s she was emancipated, whether via her initiative or that of others. Thereafter, she lived the life of a free dog, roaming the city when, where, and as she pleased. She was stout and outgoing, a welcome sight in any business, whether begging for food or catching a nap by a fire or stove.

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More than anything, she loved to greet the ships when they docked, waiting at the edge before even the first line could be cast ashore. No matter that she was deaf, she sometimes arrived at the docks before a ship was even in sight. At least, that’s how the legend went. The people swore, “She never missed a boat,” and the ships she greeted carried the story up and down the West Coast. Soon, tourists arrived in Juneau with the stated wish to see Patsy Ann. Otherwise, a trip to Alaska was incomplete. For a time, she was maybe the most photographed individual in Alaska, the star of countless postcards and vacation snapshots, a foremost emissary of Alaska goodwill.

For all the love shown to Patsy Ann during her life and since, she briefly had an enemy. In early July 1934, Kenneth Corliss was appointed as city dogcatcher. His orders were to apprehend any dog without a proper license tag affixed to their collar. The brass tags cost $2 for male dogs and $4 for female dogs.

And per those Juneau ordinances Corliss was sworn to enforce, no dog was more a bandit than the free and unhindered Patsy Ann, who showed no inclination of paying the necessary fee.

Within a day of Corliss taking his position, the Alaska Daily Empire, now the Juneau Empire, published a concerned article asking, “Is Patsy Ann in Danger?” The wheels of local bureaucracy in this instance turned swiftly. From that moment, in seemingly every home, cafe and bar, the dog was at the forefront of conversation, with donations pouring into the Empire’s office, enough “to purchase a gold-plated collar and tag.” Yet, by even then, Corliss had capitulated. His office acknowledged Patsy Ann’s supremacy and donated a tag.

Moreover, the city leadership took steps to ensure Patsy Ann’s legal status for the rest of her life with a dockside ceremony held on July 12, 1934. The event was scheduled for 6:30 that evening, timed with the expected arrival of the S.S. Prince George, thus ensuring the bull terrier’s attendance. Freshly washed with nails trimmed, Patsy Ann was declared the official greeter of Juneau. The lady of the hour regally accepted her new collar and tag, then leapt to her proper position, ready to welcome the passengers and crew of the Prince George.

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The drama over Patsy Ann’s legal status had an unexpected impact. Due to the publicity garnered by her case, more Juneau residents knew about the need to license their pets than ever before. Within a week of Patsy Ann receiving her license, 42 additional dog owners visited the city clerk’s office and paid the required fee. Only halfway through the year, 144 licenses had been issued compared to 87 the year before.

Everywhere Patsy Ann went, she was spoiled and accepted, whether stealing a morsel from a kitchen or interrupting a baseball game by stealing the ball from the pitcher. In 1935, she was the honored guest for a musical performance, especially resplendent given an “unaccustomed” bath. As the Empire drolly noted, “A born trouper, Patsy Ann wrote her own lines, and near the end of the performance wandered up and down the aisles inspecting the audience, presumably with an eye to box office receipts.”

For all the fuss raised over her status as an unlicensed dog, her collars came and went. Many of her pictures notably show her without adornment. Yet, there was no need for another campaign in her defense. Wherever she went was home, and a succession of citizens and organizations, including spells with the police and fire departments.

Though not political — treats were welcome from all politicians regardless of party affiliation — she was, however, a devoted advocate for unions. For example, she rode the longshoreman’s float in the 1937 Labor Day parade, her presence noting her favor. The bull terrier was something of a mascot for the longshoremen; their union hall was perhaps her favorite non-dock destination, a place where she could be assured of a warm bed, good company and food.

Still, some residents ran some risks and took little liberties with the treasured greeter. In 1935, Juneau photographer Leonard Delano painted “Welcome Navy” on her sides. Two Navy destroyers were in port, and, as with many photographers, nothing was more important in the moment than the perfect shot. Patsy Ann’s career as a walking sign lasted longer than the visit.

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The story of Patsy Ann has been somewhat mythologized, exaggerated despite little need. Rather than meeting every single boat that docked, she missed a few, though her absences were notable. A single line item in the May 23, 1934 Empire read, “Has anyone seen Patsy Ann?” In 1939, the Canadian Pacific steamship Duchess of Richmond stopped in Juneau, then the largest passenger liner to visit the Alaska capital. The several hundred passengers enjoyed the visit but as one expressed regret that none of them met Patsy Ann.

Frequently described as “stone deaf,” Patsy Ann was undoubtedly hard of hearing but could possibly hear a little, or at least enough to be surprised by particularly loud sounds. In 1936, she was positioned along the edge of the dock when, per the Empire, “the half hour whistle of the Yukon so startled Juneau’s famous and ostensibly deaf canine that she fell off the dock and had to be rescued.” Some residents speculated that she could feel the vibrations of the whistles, even from great distances.

Still, it is inarguable that the canine queen of Juneau was spoiled rotten, the eager recipient of treats from visitors and locals alike. By the late 1930s, she had noticeably thickened and slowed. Nobody talked about it, but maybe a few ships came and went without an official visitation. On March 30, 1942, she greeted her last ship and then passed quietly in her sleep at her favorite union hall. The next day, the city gathered for her funeral. Patsy Ann was placed in a wooden coffin and dropped into the Gastineau Channel, in the waters by her beloved dock.

In 1992, a bronze Patsy Ann statue designed by New Mexican artist Anna Burke Harris was installed on the cruise ship wharf, standing watch for new arrivals. Her collar is off and laid across one of her paws, an appropriate representation of the free dog. Today, most of the statue has turned green from the exposure, except for the head shined by hundreds of visitors rubbing her head.

Key sources:

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“Is Patsy Ann in Danger?” [Juneau] Alaska Daily Empire, July 11, 1934, 2.

“Juneau Going Over Top, Dog Licenses.” [Juneau] Alaska Daily Empire, July 19, 1934, 2.

“Juneau Sees Giant Liner Here Sunday.” [Juneau] Alaska Daily Empire, August 7, 1939, 1, 8.

“Labor Unions Celebrate in Regular Style.” [Juneau] Alaska Daily Empire, September 7, 1938, 8.

“Laddie Kyle Visits Here; Real Purpose.” [Juneau] Alaska Daily Empire, July 9, 1935, 3.

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“Patsy Ann Attends Minstrel Show in Really White Coat.” [Juneau] Alaska Daily Empire, October 17, 1935, 4.

“Patsy Ann Dies of Old Age on Monday Evening.” [Juneau] Alaska Daily Empire, March 31, 1942, 5.

“Patsy Ann, Now ‘Official Greeter’ of Juneau, Will Not Forget Former Friends.” [Juneau] Alaska Daily Empire, July 13, 1934, 2.

“Patsy Ann ‘Saved’; No Dog Pound for Her; Citizens and City Come to Greeter’s Aid.” [Juneau] Alaska Daily Empire, July 12, 1934, 8.

Rudolph Murphy, Claire, and Jane G. Haigh. Gold Rush Dogs, 2nd ed. Fairbanks: Hillside Press, 2012.

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“Wetting Fails to Subdue Patsy Ann.” [Juneau] Alaska Daily Empire, September 25, 1936, 1.





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