Alaska Airlines and Virgin America are now one entity.
Alaska Air began its bid to acquire Virgin America last April, and it has finalized the acquisition of as this week, paying $2.6 billion for the popular domestic airline. Customers of both airlines will now have more choices for flight times, as the combination will now offer close to 1,200 flights per day.
Alaska will be heavily expanding its presence in California (Virgin’s hub is in San Francisco), but will still call Seattle its home. The airline will also be expanding its routes to cover the eastern edge of the United States.
As of next week, frequent fliers of both airlines will be able to accrue miles that can be used for either airline, and on January 9, Virgin America Elevate Members will be allowed to join Alaska’s Mileage Plan, so they don’t have to worry about losing their elite status or the miles they have accrued yet have not used. No word on when, or if, Virgin will be dissolved, but Alaska Airlines’ chief executive Brad Tilden says they are in no hurry to make any decisions about Virgin’s ultimate fate.
“This is a big decision and one that deserves months of thoughtful and thorough analysis,” said Tilden. “We plan to make a decision about the Virgin America brand early next year.”
Tilden continued: “With our expanded network and strong presence in California, we’ll offer customers more attractive flight options for nonstop travel. We look forward to bringing together two incredible groups of employees to build on the successes they have achieved as standalone companies to make us an even stronger competitor nationally.”
While this merger makes Alaska Airlines the country’s fifth largest, it is still a very small airline when compared to the big three—Delta, American, and United—and Southwest (the fourth largest).