Yesterday marked the official end of the existence of Virgin America as a stand-alone airline from an operating certificate perspective. While you’ll continue to see Virgin America branded aircraft and website for a little longer, the brand continues its slow march to retirement. Officially though (as far as the FAA is concerned), both airlines are one single airline now, operating with standardized procedures and under the Alaska callsign.
Alaska Airlines purchased Virgin last year as part of a strategy to expand its footprint in California. The merger has created a $2.6 billion-dollar company with 286 aircraft and 1,200 daily flights. Alaska is now the country’s fifth largest airline. Twenty-five daily flights have been added out of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego.
Many changes ahead
The combined brand will create change for passengers throughout the next year or two. Alaska Airlines’ Boeing jets are receiving a major upgrade with all new cabins. Virgin America jets will also get a makeover. First class is being expanded from 8 seats to 12 on Virgin Airbus jets, with the remainder being upgraded later this year. High speed satellite wifi is being phased in starting this fall, as well.
If you enjoy Virgin America’s unique ambience, take heart. Fans will be relieved to know that many of the carrier’s signature characteristics will remain including boarding music and free in-flight entertainment. There will be a slight change in the nightclub-like mood lighting which will be changed from pink and purple to a more pale blue.
Callsign “Redwood” is retired
As the Virgin America brand is integrated into Alaska Airlines, the livery is getting a new paint job. The callsign “Redwood” will disappear and the SOC operating certificate is being retired. The front line crew will be sporting new uniforms designed by Luly Yang starting this summer.
Alaska Airlines’ Vice President of Marketing says, “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.”