Alaska Air Group Inc. has closed its acquisition of Virgin America, an agreement signed in April and approved by Virgin America shareholders in July, bringing the two airlines into a unified force that will “provide an attractive alternative to the ‘Big 4’ airlines that currently control 84% of the US market.
Alaska Airlines and Virgin America will spend the next year working to secure Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification to allow the two airlines to operate as a single carrier (with regional sister carrier Horizon Air remaining on its own separate operating certificate).
“Alaska Airlines and Virgin America are different airlines, but we believe different works – and we’re confident fliers will agree,” said Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Air Group. “Together, we’ll offer more flights, with low fares, more rewards and more for customers to love, as we continue to offer a distinctive travel experience. The two airlines may look different, but our core customer and employee focus is very much the same.”
The Alaska Air Group boasts nearly 1,200 daily flights to 118 destinations, the most seats on flights from the West Coast and more than US$7 billion annual revenues.
The merger will expand services and provide more frequent connections to international airline partners in thriving technology markets in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Seattle. Together, the airlines offer 289 daily flights to 52 destinations from California, including 113 daily nonstop flights to 32 destinations from three Bay Area airports and 105 daily nonstop flights to 37 destinations from four Los Angeles area airports.
The company also announced new flights from its San Francisco hub to Orlando (daily), Minneapolis (twice daily) and Orange County, California (four times daily) beginning in the summer of 2017.
As of Dec. 19, travellers are able to purchase Virgin America tickets at http://www.alaskaair.com. Tickets will continue to be available for sale at virginamerica.com for the immediate future.