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Earlier this year, news began circulating that JetBlue and Alaska Airlines were bidding to acquire Richard Branson’s Virgin America. Not long after the initial news of a potential merger, Alaska confirmed in early April that it was set to acquire Virgin America. But since then, there has been little news about the merger — with the exception of reports that Alaska could keep the Virgin brand after the merger and a couple snags in getting approval from the Justice Department.
Just last week, all speculation ended when the DOJ approved Alaska’s acquisition of Virgin — about eight months after it was initially reported. And today, it’s finalized and the deal has been closed.
Beginning December 19, Virgin America Elevate members and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members can earn rewards on the other airline’s flights. In addition, elite members from both will get priority check-in and boarding on each other’s flights.
The combined route network includes nearly 1,200 daily flights to 118 destinations across the US, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica and Cuba.
The two will have a large presence on the West Coast and offer more nonstop destinations from the West Coast than any other airline. Its hubs will be located in Seattle, Portland, Anchorage, San Francisco and Los Angeles — the most West Coast hubs of any airline.
According to a press release, the two carriers will spend the next year working with the FAA to get certification so they can operate as a single carrier. We’re getting a look today into what the combined airline will look like, with its “Different works” branding and from inside some of the two airlines’ aircraft like this 737-900ER:
Alaska and Virgin America have consummated their marriage. First signs of new era on this 737-900ER? Lighting. pic.twitter.com/8CPrkQFheG
— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) December 14, 2016
As for what will happen to Virgin America? According to the Alaska press release:
No decisions regarding the Virgin America brand have been made. Alaska plans to continue to operate the Virgin America fleet with its current name and product for a period of time while it conducts extensive customer research to understand what fliers value the most. Virgin America will continue to fly under its brand with no immediate changes to the onboard product or experience.
So it’s business as usual for the time being, with the added benefits of reciprocal mileage earning and elite perks.
Featured image courtesy of Alaska.
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