Alaska Airlines has been awarded a single operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) following its merger with Virgin America. The Seattle-based airline completed its purchase of Virgin America in December 2016 and has spent the time since aligning the operating policies and procedures of the two carriers.
“This is a big moment for our company,” said Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines President and Chief Operating Officer and CEO of Virgin America. “We’re now recognised as one airline in the eyes of the FAA. I want to congratulate and thank the teams at Alaska and Virgin America for their tireless work to get this done on time. And we greatly appreciate the assistance of the FAA, the Department of Transportation and other agencies as we accomplished this major milestone.”
The merged airline expects to move to a single reservation system in late April after Virgin America’s loyalty programme was integrated with the Alaska Mileage Plan on January 1. In March, Alaska Airlines will launch an Airbus operations control centre alongside its existing Boeing facility at its Flight Operations Center in Seattle.
The first Virgin America jet to be painted in Alaska’s livery was rolled out at Victorville, California, on January 24. Airbus A320-214 N625VA (c/n 2800) was then flown to San Francisco where it re-entered service.
In other news, the airline has outlined the initial destinations it will serve from its new Paine Field operation. The carrier will connect the Washington State airport to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. Alaska says it will announce frequencies and arrival/departure times later this year and that all its plans are subject to government approval.
Alaska Airlines Chief Commercial Officer, Andrew Harrison, said: “This is both a historic occasion and a great honour for Alaska Airlines. We’re proud to become the anchor tenant of the new terminal at Paine Field. With so many new possibilities for business and leisure travel, we believe this will bring increased opportunities to our communities.”