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More Alaska Airlines Flights Planned For Busy SFO

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Though already one of the biggest carriers operating at SFO Alaska Airlines is adding even more flights, turning the airport into a major hub.

The increased number of flights should give bay area travelers more options.

For decades United has been the biggest -- and the busiest -- airline at SFO, operating nearly half the flights in and out of San Francisco.

But now Alaska Airlines wants a bigger piece of the action.

"They see an opportunity here, so they're jumping in with guns a-blazing," said Chris McGinnis, editor of the website. "It's a very big deal. This is the biggest rollout of new flights that Alaska Airlines has ever had in its history."

Alaska plans to add more than a dozen new routes from the Bay Area later this year.

The nine flights from SFO will serve Albuquerque, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Kona, New Orleans, Nashville, Mexico City, Philly and Raleigh.

There will also be three flights from Mineta-San Jose to Austin, Tucson and LAX.

"This is a good example of a carrier coming in and kind of staking a claim of its own," said McGinnis.

McGinnis says the Seattle-based airline that recently merged with virgin is trying to become the dominant player on the west coast.

For travelers, the expanded service will mean more choices and more competition, according to McGinnis. It also could lead to more amenities, particularly if united wants to keep up.

"It's going to have to have newer planes and seat back ordering," said McGinnis. "I think United is going to have to up its game if it wants to keep business travelers."

However, he doesn't think the competition will necessarily lead to lower fares.

I don't think Alaska is in this game to lower prices," said McGinnis.

But the major changes, could lead to a lot more traffic at SFO. McGinnis said the airport is already operating at near capacity.

"Where are we gonna fit all these flights in?" asked McGinnis.

SFO will be adding an extra gate to accommodate the additional traffic. Alaska's new flights start in late August.

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