Alaska Air Group (parent to Alaska Airlines) announced today that it will be acquiring Virgin America for about $4 billion. You may be wondering why these two airlines are merging when they were both doing well on their own… The goal for Alaska Airlines is to expand its presence on the West Coast – specifically California.
AAG chairman and chief executive Brad Tilden said in a statement,“With our expanded network and strong presence in California, we’ll offer customers more attractive flight options for nonstop travel.”
That means Alaska Airlines would gain a presence at Los Angeles International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Dallas Love Field, LaGuardia Airport, and D.C.’s Reagan National Airport. It would also create the fifth largest airline in the U.S. (in terms of capacity).
What It Means
While other large airline merges didn’t exactly mean good news for travelers, this one could be a different story – especially for West Coast travelers. Alaska Airlines will be adding about two dozen cities to its list of destinations and around 1,200 daily departures. The airline is also consistently ranked one of the top airlines in the U.S., which means travelers can look forward to choosing Alaska over other airlines like United or American Airlines.
Here’s an image (courtesy of Alaska Airlines) that shows the Virgin America routes Alaska will be acquiring:
The two airlines are very different, in terms of brand and audience. However, Alaska Airlines said it would “explore with the Virgin Group how the Virgin America brand could continue to serve a role,” which means it may not be the end for Virgin America. Before the merge occurs, it has to get approval from the U.S. Justice Department. If it does, you could be seeing a lot more of Alaska Airlines.