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Alaska Air Will Start Paying Dividend, Following Delta

July 11 (Bloomberg) -- Alaska Air Group Inc. will begin paying a quarterly dividend of 20 cents a share, joining larger competitor and partner Delta Air Lines Inc. as U.S. carriers return cash to stockholders.

The initial payout will be Aug. 22 to shareholders of record as of Aug. 6, the Seattle-based carrier said today in a statement.

Alaska Air, the seventh-largest U.S. carrier, is adding the dividend to supplement its multiyear stock buyback program, Chief Executive Officer Brad Tilden said in the statement. Alaska Air is the second U.S. carrier to add a dividend this year, after Delta said in May it would add pay 6 cents a share starting Sept. 10 as part of a decade-long turnaround.

“Alaska’s strong financial results over the past several years have allowed us to pay meaningful bonuses to our employees, profitably reinvest in our business and grow our network while significantly reducing debt, keeping our pensions well-funded and returning capital to our owners,” Tilden said.

Alaska Air began a $250 million stock repurchase last year, to be completed by the end of 2014. The company said it has bought back more than $370 million of its shares since 2006.

Shares of Alaska Air rose 3.5 percent to $59.56 at the close in New York. They have gained 38 percent this year, as the Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index advanced 40 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Jane Credeur in Atlanta at mcredeur@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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