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For nearly 70 years Alaska Airlines has served the west coast of North America Alaska Airlines has grown from a small regional airline in 1932 to one today that carries more than 12 million customers per year Alaskas route system spans more than 40 cities and primarily services four countries Canada United States Mexico and Russia Its fleet of 88 Boeing jets is the youngest among all major airlines and it has earned US airline recognition from Travel Leisure and Cond Nast Traveler magazinesThe foundation of Alaska Airlines began in 1932 when Mac McGee started flying his three-seat Stinson between Anchorage and Bristol Bay Alaska In 1934 a merger with Star Air Service created the then-largest airline in Alaska By the late 1940s using surplus military aircraft Alaska had branched into worldwide charter work including the Berlin Airlift in 1948 and Operation Magic Carpet the airlift of thousands of Yemenite Jews to Israel in 1949 In the late 1960s Alaska strengthened its operating base by merging with Alaska Coastal-Ellis and Cordova airlines legendary Southeast Alaska carriers owned by aviation pioneers Shell Simmons Bob Ellis and Mudhole Smith Alaskas world now stretched from Fairbanks south to Ketchikan and down to Seattle And in some of the coldest days of the Cold War Alaska made headlines with regular charters to the Soviet Union In 1972 Alaska Airlines faced severe financial difficulties Fairbanks businessmen Ron Cosgrave and Bruce Kennedy were hired and they are credited with salvaging the airline and winning the trust of creditors employees and customers by improving time performance and customer service In addition construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline brought a surge in business to the airline through the transport of supplies equipment and workers Finally Cosgrave and Kennedy focused on customer service In 1987 Alaska Airlines merged with Horizon Air and Jet America and increased its fleet five-fold The following section provides an overview of the history of Alaska AirlinesThe company
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