Alaska Air expanding routes next summer to Milwaukee, Oklahoma City from Sea-Tac

Sea-Tac-based Alaska Airlines, which has embarked on an ambitious route expansion plan from the Pacific Northwest as competition from Delta Air Lines heats up, this week announced three new routes serving two new cities.

The airline, contracting with SkyWest Airlines, will inaugurate new nonstops between Sea-Tac and Milwaukee and Oklahoma City and between Portland and St. Louis on July 1.

SkyWest will operate the flights for Alaska using a new kind of aircraft in Alaska’s livery or paint scheme, 76-seat Embraer E-175 twin jets. The Brazilian-made airliners will offer 12 first class and 64 coach seats with cabin dimensions comparable to those available on Alaska’s Boeing 737 jets.

The routes to Milwaukee and Oklahoma City and to St. Louis from Portland are expected to generate enough traffic for the smaller Embraer planes, but not enough for a full-sized 737 Alaska itself flies.

Alaska will compete with Southwest Airlines on the Milwaukee route. No airline flies non-stop from Sea-Tac to Oklahoma City or from Portland to St. Louis.

In recent months as Delta has added more nonstops to its Sea-Tac network to destinations such as Denver, Sacramento, Boise, Ketchikan and Sitka, Alaska has added nonstop flights to new cities such as New Orleans, Tampa, Baltimore, Albuquerque, Cancun and Detroit.

Delta says it is adding new routes and capacity to Sea-Tac to support its growing Pacific hub operations with international flights to Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo’s two airports, Haneda and Narita.