By the end of 2019, Alaska Airlines will retire the Virgin American branding and logo it acquired last year.
The Alaska Air Group announced on Wednesday (March 22) that the decision has to do with both cost and consistency of branding, GeekWire reported.
Late last year, Alaska Air Group completed the $4 billion transaction to acquire Virgin America’s operation and routes, making the merged firm the fifth largest U.S. air carrier, following behind American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
However, the combined company had yet to settle on a name for the operation since the acquisition was announced last spring.
“We spent the last 10 months conducting extensive research and listening carefully to what fliers on the West Coast want most,” Sangita Woerner, VP of marketing for Alaska Airlines, said in a statement. “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.”
Alaska Air Group must still wait to receive certification from the Federal Aviation Administration for the two airlines to operate as a single carrier before the Virgin America name and logo can be retired, but it’s expected it will happen sometime in 2019.
In December, the Department of Justice granted U.S. antitrust approval on the deal with the condition that Alaska Air Group’s codesharing with American Airlines Group was scaled back.
The codesharing stipulation prevents Alaska and American from codesharing on routes where Virgin and American do not compete. Codesharing is also banned for future routes that Alaska Air might fly that would put it into direct competition with American. The settlement does not require that Alaska Airlines shut down any gates or divest itself of any assets.
Now the West Coast’s largest airline, Alaska also announced many changes and perks it plans to incorporate into its guest experience over the coming years. These include a new brand personality, satellite connectivity, more premium seats, an enhanced loyalty program, complimentary upgrades, free moves, lounge expansion, free chat and a new range of in-flight food and beverages.