By Patrick Clarke
Alaska Air Group completed its $2.6 billion acquisition of Virgin America Wednesday, becoming the fifth-largest U.S. airline in the process.
The news comes just one week after the Department of Justice approved the merger.
The next step following the acquisition is for the carriers to secure Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification to permit them to operate as a single airline. The carriers said they will work to do that over the course of the next year.
By joining forces, the expanded route network boasts nearly 1,200 daily flights to well over 100 destinations across the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica and Cuba.
“Alaska Airlines and Virgin America are different airlines, but we believe different works – and we’re confident fliers will agree,” Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden said in a statement. “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.”
Beginning Monday, Virgin America Elevate members and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members will be able to earn rewards on both carriers, while elite members will receive priority check-in and priority boarding on each other’s flights.
Also starting Monday, travelers will be able to purchase Virgin America flight tickets at AlaskaAir.com.
The airline, which will remain based out of Seattle, will feature the youngest aircraft fleet of any of the top five U.S. airlines and will boast more West Coast hubs than any other airline.
Alaska Air also announced Wednesday that it will launch new daily flights to Orlando, Minneapolis and Orange County, California from its hub in San Francisco beginning this upcoming summer. Those flights will go on sale Dec. 21.
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