For more than 75 years, Alaska Airlines has built an extensive list of aviation milestones. Alaska has grown from a small regional airline to one of the most admired airlines. The airline carries more than 17 million customers a year and its routes span more than 60 cities and three countries. The history of Alaska Airlines is a fascinating story filled with numerous aviation milestones.

The groundwork of Alaska Airlines began in 1932, when Mac McGee began flying his three-seat Stinson between Anchorage and Bristol Bay, Alaska. A merger with Star Air Service in 1934 created the largest airline in Alaska. After several more mergers, the Alaska Airlines was officially born. Business grew in 1937 with the purchase of Alaska Interior Airlines. By the late 1940s, Alaska had branched into worldwide charter services using surplus military aircraft. This work included the Berlin Airlift in 1948 and Operation Magic Carpet, the airlift of thousands of Yemenite Jews to Israel in 1949.

The airline expanded in 1950 with the purchase of two more small Alaskan carriers. During late 1960s, Alaska broadened its operations by merging with Alaska Coastal-Ellis and Cordova airlines. Alaska Airlines flights now extended from Fairbanks south to Ketchikan and down to Seattle. Alaska Airlines even made regular charters to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

In 1972, a group led by Ron Cosgrave, took the helm of the Airline to prevent it from financially collapsing. In 1973, the airline made a profit. Bruce Kennedy became CEO in 1979. That same year, the U.S. skies were deregulated. During this time, the airline served 10 cities in Alaska and one in Seattle. Its fleet numbered 10. As well, a service to Portland and San Francisco was started in 1979.

During the 1980s, Alaska Airlines continued to expand. Services brought the Airline to Southern California, Oakland, San Jose, Spokane, Boise, Phoenix and Tucson. In 1985, Alaska Air Group was formed as a holding company and the next year, the company acquired Horizon Air and Jet America Airlines. In 1988, the Airline began service to Mexico.

In the 1990s, the Airline streamlined its cost structure and increased aircraft utilization. Alaska Airlines new motto – “For the same price, you just get more.” Alaska Airlines began increasing service to the lower 48 States that included to Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Newark, Orlando and Washington, D.C. The airline also began offering service to the Hawaiian Islands and added more destinations in Mexico. There was also the transition to an all-Boeing 737 fleet. In 2001, Alaska Airlines began offering services to Washington, D.C.

Alaska has pioneered many innovations and technologies in the airline industry which has made the traveler’s experience much easier and more convenient. For instance, Alaska was the first airline in North America to sell tickets online. The Airline was also the first to allow customers to check in and print boarding passes online. Over 75 years, the airline has blazed trails in flight services. Alaska Airlines will continue to thrive as an important and major airline.

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