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TravelAlaska adds new route from Santa Rosa to Las Vegas

Alaska adds new route from Santa Rosa to Las Vegas

There may be something of an airline turf war heating up in California’s wine country.

With weeks to go until budget carrier Avelo Airlines establishes a new crew base in Sonoma County’s Santa Rosa, Alaska Airlines may be hoping to ward off some competition with a new route to Las Vegas.

This fall, Alaska will launch a new nonstop from Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS) to Vegas’ Harry Reid International Airport (LAS).

The move comes as the Seattle-based carrier, long the most dominant player in Santa Rosa, is set to see some increased competition at the airport.

Earlier this year, Avelo revealed plans to shift one of its western crew bases to Santa Rosa from none other than Las Vegas. And in recent weeks, the Houston-based ultra-low-cost carrier has unveiled a handful of new routes from its future base.

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Suffice to say, it didn’t take Alaska long to respond, with airline executives pointing to the carrier’s 17-year history in Sonoma in announcing the new route.

“We feel a deep connection with Santa Rosa—Alaska became the first carrier to bring commercial service to Sonoma County Airport nearly two decades ago—and we’ve remained the largest airline at STS,” Kirsten Amrine, Alaska’s vice president of network planning and revenue management, said in a statement Thursday.

Alaska’s new Santa Rosa route

Alaska will launch the new nonstop service from Santa Rosa to Las Vegas on Oct. 1. At that point, the airline will operate the daily route year-round with an Embraer 175 aircraft, which seats 76 passengers: 12 in first class, 16 in the extra-legroom Premium class and 48 in coach.

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The new route marks Alaska’s seventh daily departure from Sonoma, with existing service to four airports in Southern California and its two Pacific Northwest hubs in Seattle and Portland, Oregon.

Alaska Airlines’ October schedule from Santa Rosa. CIRIUM

Increasing competition in Santa Rosa

This isn’t the first time Alaska has scaled up its service to wine country in the face of competition from Avelo.

The carrier added additional nonstop destinations and frequencies when Avelo first commenced operations at the airport in 2021.

Even prior to Thursday’s new-route announcement, Alaska was set to grow its 2024 seats in Santa Rosa by around 22% versus 2023 — and by about 48% from 2019, according to data from aviation analytics firm Cirium.


For its part, Avelo is scheduled to fly nonstop to eight destinations from Santa Rosa as of this summer.

Avelo’s summer 2024 route map from Santa Rosa. CIRIUM

If Avelo maintains its summer route map into the fall months, it would overlap with Alaska on both the Vegas route and with its service to Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR).

Bottom line

Avelo has clearly made Sonoma County a target, with its crew base set to open as of May 1 and new routes coming with that shift.

Now, Alaska is taking steps to maintain its market share in the region.

Generally, these sorts of “turf wars” are good news for consumers, since more airlines competing in the same market ­— particularly on the same routes — can often help drive down fares, as carriers have recently seen, all too well, in some cities.

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