Alaska Airlines will acquire Virgin America for a deal worth more than $2 billion, the firms announced on Monday.
Alaska Airlines said it will use Virgin America, which is is acquiring for $57 a share in cash, to help expand its footprint in California and compete more aggressively against larger airlines in the United States.
For Virgin America customers, service will expand in the thriving technology markets in Silicon Valley and Seattle. The combined airline will also offer more frequent connections to international airline partners departing Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. In addition, this transaction will open up growth opportunities in important East Coast business markets by increasing Alaska Airlines’ access to slot-controlled airports like Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and the two primary New York City-area airports, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.
That’s good news for folks on the East Coast who like Virgin America and, for the most part, haven’t been able to use the airline except for flights to and from west-coast destinations. When I’m not flying Delta, for example, you can bet I’m trying to find a good fair to Las Vegas or California on Virgin America. But the deal might be bad news for folks who are worried about changes to Virgin America.
Just take a look at this cabin comparison, Virgin first and second – Alaska last:
Ever fly Virgin America? It offers, arguably, one of the best air travel experiences in America. You’ll find comfortable seats, great service, a clean and spacious cabin and pretty solid food. The ambient lightning is another nice touch, and it’s been mimicked by other airlines around the industry. Now all of that will become the responsibility of Alaska Airlines to maintain.
Let’s hope it stays that way.