Virgin America will disappear into Alaska Airlines in 2019
Alaska announced late Wednesday that it will retire the Virgin brand, probably in 2019, adding that name to a list including Continental and US Airways that disappeared in the past decade.
Seattle-based Alaska, which late past year completed its $4 billion acquisition of San Francisco-based Virgin America over the protests of founder Richard Branson, said the change will be made "likely sometime in 2019".
The airline will keep a number of Virgin America amenities, including enhanced in-flight entertainment, music and its signature mood lighting. Brad Tilden explained in the release, the goal of the merger was to create a low-priced and fan-favorite West Coast airline.
Throughout the opening stages of the merger, rumors circulated Alaska was toying with the idea of keeping the Virgin America brand flying, especially because of its remarkable success as such a young airline.
"We spent the last 10 months conducting extensive research and listening carefully to what fliers on the West Coast want most", said Sangita Woerner, Alaska Airlines' vice president of marketing.
Alaska said they're planning on incorporating the best parts of Virgin into a new refreshed fleet starting in 2019. Alaska Air tells CNN that a decision on whether to stick with Boeing or move to a mixed mainline fleet would be made later this year.
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"If you miss flying Virgin America, you still have your lovely sisters; Virgin Atlantic is starting services from London to Seattle next week, and Virgin Australia is starting direct services from Melbourne to Hong Kong the week after that".
Virgin Australia's Airbus A330-200 fleet features the airline's Business Class suites as well as 255 economy seats in a 2-4-2 configuration.
BURLINGAME, CA - MARCH 29: A Virgin America plane lands at San Francisco International Airport on March 29, 2016 in Burlingame, California. Alaska Airlines' staff would also get new uniforms created by Seattle fashion designer Luly Yang. Prior to the merger, Alaska Airlines' mainline fleet consisted exclusively of Boeing 737 aircraft.
Branson couldn't block last year's sale because Virgin Group owned less than 25 percent of Virgin America's voting shares, due to US regulatory requirements.
Virgin America was launched in 2007 and since then they have developed a devoted following and also won a lot of consumer awards from Travel and Leisure magazines and Conde Nast Traveler.
- As for the fate of Virgin America's Airbus jets, that remains uncertain. "Either way, the company will fly a mixed fleet for at least the next 6 years", an Alaska Air spokeswoman said to the network. And there is a slim chance that Virgin America might be relaunched too.
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