Alaska & Virgin America Merger Is Now Official

Alaska Air Group completed the acquisition of Virgin America yesterday. To celebrate the occasion they presented a co-branded jet painted in blue, purple and red. Alaska had one of its 737-900ER jets painted in a blend of Virgin America’s and Alaska Airlines’ livery (including the Eskimo face on the tail). The jet’s interior lighting scheme glowed in red and blue as well.

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“Alaska Airlines and Virgin America are different airlines, but we believe different works – and we’re confident fliers will agree,” Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Air Group, said in a news release.

The acquisition cost Alaska Air $2.6 billion ($4 billion, including debt and aircraft operating leases). The deal was finalized after the U.S. Department of Justice gave its regulatory approval last week after tweaking the terms to comply with antitrust requirements.

Alaska Air Group now ranks No. 5 on the list of U.S. carriers, moving up one spot past JetBlue. The latter had also shown interest in Virgin America as well. Alaska and Virgin America are projected to generate more than $7 billion in annual revenue and operate about 280 aircraft.

For the time being, the all-Boeing Alaska Airlines fleet and the all-Airbus Virgin America fleet will retain their separate brands. Except for one plane.

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