Tag Archives: Alaska Airlines

Virgin America Brand Axed

Alaska Airlines says it will “retire” the Virgin America brand in 2019 after the two carriers merge – but will retain many of the brand elements popular among Virgin America passengers, including enhanced in-flight entertainment, mood lighting and music.

Brad Tilden, CEO of Seattle-based Alaska Air Group, explained: “Our goal from the very beginning of this merger was to become the go-to airline for people on the West Coast, with low fares, convenient flights, a premium product and genuine, caring service.

“Three months in, we’ve dramatically grown our presence in California and are united behind a new purpose: creating an airline people love.”

In February, Alaska Airlines announced 25 new daily departures from San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Jose, California, the largest addition of routes in the company’s history.

Sangita Woerner, Alaska Airlines’ VP of Marketing, said: “We spent the last ten months conducting extensive research and listening carefully to what fliers on the West Coast want most.

“While the Virgin America name is beloved to many, we concluded that to be successful on the West Coast we had to do so under one name – for consistency and efficiency, and to allow us to continue to deliver low fares.”

Next year Alaska will introduce a redesigned cabin with new seats and amenities, while new staff uniforms by designer Luly Yang will be introduced in mid-2019.

Meanwhile its entire fleet of Boeing 737s will be equipped with high-speed satellite Wi-Fi by this autumn.  Guests will be able to stream free entertainment on their own devices while travelling on the Boeing fleet.  The facility will be extended to the Airbus fleet in August via the Red entertainment system.

Premium seating will be expanded across the Airbus fleet, increasing the number of First Class seats from eight to 12 and adding 18 new Premium Class seats.

On the ground, the airline is refreshing and expanding lounges in Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles and opening new facilities in San Francisco and New York/JFK.

Alaska/Virgin America Merger Completed

Alaska Air Group has closed its acquisition of Virgin America, just days after the deal was cleared by the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

The definitive merger agreement was signed in April and approved by Virgin America shareholders in July.  The DOJ gave the deal the green light on December 6 on condition that Alaska Airlines implements “limited” changes to its codeshare agreement with American Airlines.  Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines, was not required to divest any assets.  The deal was closed on December 14.

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

Over the next year Alaska Airlines and Virgin America will work together to secure Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification to allow the two
airlines to operate as a single carrier.  No decisions have been taken regarding the future of the Virgin America brand.  Alaska says it will continue to operate the Virgin America fleet with the current product and name “for a period of time” to allow it to undertake extensive customer research “to understand what fliers value the most”.  One decision Alaska, an all-Boeing 737 operator, faces is whether to keep Virgin America’s all-Airbus A320 Family fleet.

“We appreciate there is great interest in the future of the Virgin America brand among customers and employees alike,” said Tilden.  “This is a big decision and one that deserves months of thoughtful and thorough analysis.”

Tilden will lead the combined company while Ben Minicucci becomes CEO of Virgin America in addition to his responsibilities as COO and President of Alaska Airlines.  Peter Hunt, previously Virgin America Senior VP and CFO, will now serve as president of the subsidiary.  The company say Minicucci and Hunt’s positions are effective immediately and remain in force until a single operating certificate has been obtained from the FAA, expected in early 2018.

Alaska/Virgin America Merger Approved

Alaska Air Group’s merger with Virgin America has been cleared by the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

Approval was given on condition that Alaska implements “limited” changes to its codeshare agreement with American Airlines, though it is not required to divest any assets.

“We couldn’t be more excited about receiving DOJ clearance for our merger with Virgin America,” said Alaska Air Group Chairman and CEO Brad Tilden. “With this combination now cleared for take-off, we’re thrilled to bring these two companies together and start delivering our low fares and great service to an even larger group of customers.”

Alaska Air Group, the parent firm of Alaska Airlines, plans to close the transaction “in the very near future, taking into account the lawsuit filed by private plaintiffs in US District Court in San Francisco”.  The company says the “the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit and plans to defend its acquisition of Virgin America accordingly”.

Tilden added: “We remain confident in the merits of this transaction.  The expanded West Coast presence and larger customer base create an enhanced platform for growth, which is good for investors, employees and especially customers – who benefit from more choices, increased competition and low fares.”

Alaska Launches Space Bin Retrofit Programme

Alaska Airlines will be the launch customer for Boeing’s Space Bin retrofit programme, modifying 34 of its 737-900ER fleet with more spacious overhead bins.

Boeing says the upgrade increases the room for carry-on baggage by up to 50% “depending on the airline’s configuration”.  The design enables six bags to be stowed in each compartment, two more than the current pivot bins installed on Next-Generation 737s with the Boeing Sky Interior.  The manufacturer says these figures are based on a standard size carry-on bag measuring 9 x 14 x 22in (23 x 36 x 56cm).  The bottom edge of a Space Bin hangs about 2in (5cm) lower, so passengers can lift their baggage more easily as well as increasing visibility into the back of the bins.

“Alaska is committed to making flying hassle-free and comfortable,” said Mark Eliasen, treasurer and vice president of finance, Alaska Airlines.  “Many passengers want to keep a bag in the cabin and Boeing’s Space Bins make it possible for virtually everyone to stow a wheeled suitcase.  That’s why Alaska is thrilled to be equipping 100% of our new jets with Space Bins and retrofitting all of our existing 737-900ERs.”

Alaska Airlines was the launch customer for Boeing’s in-production Space Bins program last year and by 2017, will have almost half of its fleet outfitted with the larger bins.

Mike Fleming, vice president, Boeing Fleet Services, added: “Boeing works very closely with our customers to enhance their airplanes with features that improve the passenger experience.  By providing our customers with a retrofit option for the Space Bins, we are allowing long-time 737 customers, like Alaska Airlines, the ability to keep their entire fleet current.”

Transpacific Tie-Up

Japan Airlines (JAL) and Alaska Airlines have confirmed plans to launch a new codeshare agreement and frequent flier partnership.  The deal, due to take effect from June 29, is subject to government approval but will enable passengers flying with JAL to connect to an extensive network across the US Pacific Northwest.  Alaska Airlines customers can take advantage of improved connections to and from Asia via the Japanese flag carrier’s West Coast operations from points including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Vancouver.

(JAL)
(JAL)

“We are pleased to offer our customers more routes and destinations with our new partnership with Alaska Airlines,” Hideki Oshima, JAL Executive Officer, International Relations and Alliances said.  “The new cooperation also allows JAL to strengthen its own presence throughout the Pacific Northwest and will provide additional mileage earning and redemption opportunities for our customers.”

Alaska Airlines Executive Vice President and CEO Andrew Harrison added: “As a premium Japanese airline, JAL is a great addition to our line-up of high quality global partners, giving our Mileage Plan members more ways to earn miles for travel from the West Coast to Japan and beyond.  For the first time, our members will be able to earn and redeem miles within Japan, taking advantage of 600 daily flights on JAL’s broad domestic network.”

Alaska Air Group Acquires Virgin America

Alaska Air Group, parent of Alaska Airlines, and Virgin America are to merge and create a major presence on the US West Coast.  The $4 billion deal was unanimously approved by both company’s boards of directors.  Although described as a merger, Alaska Airlines will take control of its rival operator and become the nation’s fifth largest carrier.  The deal, the company claims, will expand its West Coast market share significantly, giving it a larger customer base, an enhanced platform for future growth as well as positioning the expanded Alaska Airlines to provide more choices for its customers, increase competition in the market as well as delivering stronger returns to its investors.

The merger will help to expand Alaska Airlines’ existing footprint in California and boost its well-established core markets in the Pacific Northwest and the state of Alaska.  Virgin America’s strong foundation in California will help make Alaska Airlines a major force in and out of the Golden State’s airports, including San Francisco and Los Angeles.  For Virgin America customers, services will expand to the thriving technology markets in Silicon Valley and Seattle.

Brad Tilden, chairman and CEO of Alaska Air Group, said: “Our employees have worked hard to earn the deep loyalty of customers in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, while the Virgin America team has done the same in California.  Together we will continue to deliver what customers tell us they want: low fares, unmatched reliability and outstanding customer service.  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.”

Alaska Air said the combined airline would have 1,200 daily departures, with hubs in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Anchorage and Portland, Oregon.  It will operate a fleet of around 280 aircraft, including Virgin America’s 60 Airbus A319 and A320 jets.  The newly combined organisation will be based in Seattle under the continued leadership of Tilden and his senior leadership team.  Until regulatory approvals are received, Tilden and David Cush, president and CEO of Virgin America, will co-lead a transition team developing a specific integration plan.  The group intends applying for a single operating certificate.  Alaska will maintain its new, refreshed brand while looking closely at Virgin America to learn more about the carrier’s award-winning brand and customer experience.  Both airlines expect to complete the transaction by no later than January 1, 2017.