Warmth for an Eskimo

The familiar painted smile may soon be gone from the happy faces of Pacific Southwest Airlines planes as US Air completes its takeover of the San Diego-based line, but at least the happy Eskimo will continue to beam from the tails of Alaska Airlines jets.

As Alaska expanded its routes into the continental United States, airline officials became concerned that the Eskimo symbol was too parochial for the line's ambitions and modern status. They proposed replacing the Eskimo with a stylized mountain that, with some squinting and an exer-cise of imagination, could be envisioned as resem-bling the capital letter A.

Protests came from all over, but basically from the state of Alaska. The legislature appealed to the line to retain the Eskimo. On Thursday Alaska Airlines officials relented. The Eskimo stays.

Three cheers for Alaska. There is something to be said for a sense of stability and continuity in this era of takeovers, contortionist created company names and the blurring of corporate identities--even if Alaska is only 15 years old and based not in Alaska but in Seattle.

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