Shining Light Company: “Alaska Airlines”

Alaska Airlines (Alaska Air Group, Inc.  Symbol: ALK), is the seventh-largest U.S. airline based on passenger traffic and is one of the most popular U.S. West Coast air carriers. Headquartered in Seattle, Alaska carries more passengers between the state of Alaska and the Lower 48 than any other airline. Alaska added 20 new markets and 10 new cities to their network in 2015.

The carrier traces its roots back to 1932, when Linious “Mac” McGee of McGee Airways started 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, which eventually became Alaska Airlines.  Alaska and its sister carrier, Horizon Air, are owned by Alaska Air Group.

Long known for its Alaskan roots, symbolized by the Eskimo painted on the tail of the aircraft, Alaska Airlines is embedded into the fiber of the communities it serves in the harsh, breathtaking state of Alaska.  In Alaska, the airline transports the mail, the groceries and the medicine. And because it is so vital, the face on the tail represents more than just a logo.  It symbolizes safety, family, community and home.   Alaska Airlines offers a friendly and relaxed style of service, one that passengers have come to appreciate as the “Alaska Spirit.”

President and CEO, Brad Tilden, has been with the company for 22 years and in his own words, “When I think about what makes me most proud to be part of Alaska Air Group, at the very top of my list is that both Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are committed to honesty, fairness and ethical behavior. The proof of that commitment is reflected again and again in the actions of individual employees doing the right thing in the right way, every day.”

Alaska Airlines had a longstanding tradition of serving up Bible verses with their in-flight meals. The prayer cards were a great source of comfort and reassurance to many, however they were not welcomed by others.  As a publically traded company, executive management wrestled with the decision to take them off their airplanes and finally concluded the negatives outweighed the positives.

Through charity drives, volunteer days and educational support campaigns, their community giving contributes to the overall well-being of the locations they serve.  An example is The Milk Run, a daily circuit of Alaska Airlines flights that hop between towns in Southeast Alaska, serving as a lifeline for the communities that aren’t always connected by roads to the outside world. In some ways, the Milk Run flights reflect the airline’s heritage in the state where it earned its name, and the resilient bush pilots in the 1930s who transported mail, medicine and furs to all kinds of places through most kinds of weather.

As Alaska Airlines grows, they try to find new ways to manage their impact on the planet.  They remain a leader in sustainability through efforts such as using in-flight recycling.  Partnering with their flight kitchens they hope to start inflight composting and reducing paper consumption by 13 million sheets.

Alaskan Airlines puts specific focus and significant resources on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. They understand that advancing the STEM field among youth and cultivating future leaders is critical not just to the country, but also to their business.

They have also committed to a 10-year sponsorship of the Environmental Innovation Challenge at the University of Washington, demonstrating its dedication to innovation that addresses the world’s most pressing environmental problems. The airline is close to being the first airline to test alcohol-to-jet fuel. 

Alaska Airlines takes great pride in the people that bring their mission to life – their employees, customers and vendors.  The airline engages with their vendors in ways that are consistent with their values and insist that their vendors uphold those same values with their employees.

Alaska Airlines’ job of connecting communities and people is fundamentally important and they take great pride in doing it well.  As they continue to have millions of people flying each year, they are providing the livelihoods of their employees and ensuring that their investors get a good return.  Conducting business consistent with their values is a responsibility taken seriously by Alaska Airlines and exhibits the core of what we call a Shining Light Company!



DISCLOSURE: Shining Light Companies are exemplary companies who live out the Golden Rule in their business practices, demonstrate strong servant leadership and create compelling value through the products and services they offer. This is intended for general information purposes concerning only the values, corporate culture and business practices of the companies being spotlighted. It DOES NOT incorporate any analysis of the companies’ investment merit based on intrinsic value, fundamental analysis, etc. This must not be construed as investment advice or a buy/sell recommendation. These companies may or may not be included in our LightPoint Portfolios at any given time.