Thursday, December 15, 2016

Alaska Air Group Closes Acquisition Of Virgin America, Becomes The 5th Largest U.S. Airline

Customers get more flights, more low fares, more rewards and more to love; company to unveil
 co-branded Boeing 737-900ER today featuring a special, one-time livery

Highlights of the combination:
-- An expanded route network with nearly 1,200 daily flights to 118 destinations across the
United States, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica and Cuba
-- More nonstop destinations served from the West Coast than any airline
-- A global network of partner airlines that, together with Alaska, fly to more than 800 destinations
-- New daily flights to Orlando, Florida; Minneapolis; and Orange County, California from its San
 Francisco hub starting summer 2017 – service will be available for sale Dec. 21.
-- Starting Dec. 19, Virgin America Elevate members and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members can
 earn rewards on each other's flights; elite members will receive priority check-in and priority boarding
 on each other's flights
-- Starting Dec. 19, customers can purchase Virgin America tickets at
-- A fuel efficient fleet of 286 aircraft with an average age of 8.1 years, the youngest of the top five
 U.S. airlines
-- Corporate headquarters in Seattle
-- Hubs in Seattle, Portland, Anchorage, San Francisco and Los Angeles – the most West Coast hubs
 of any airline
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Alaska Air Group Inc. (NYSE: ALK) today announced
 it has closed its acquisition of Virgin America (NASDAQ: VA). The definitive merger agreement, which
 was signed in April and approved by Virgin America shareholders in July, brings together two of the
 country's favorite airlines into a unified force that will provide an attractive alternative to the "Big 4"
airlines that currently control 84 percent of the domestic market. Alaska Airlines and Virgin America
 will spend the next year working to secure Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification to allow
 the two airlines to operate as a single carrier (with regional sister carrier Horizon Air remaining on its
 own separate operating certificate).
"Alaska Airlines and Virgin America are different airlines, but we believe different works – and we're
 confident fliers will agree," said Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Air Group. "Together, we'll offer more flights,
 with low fares, more rewards and more for customers to love, as we continue to offer a distinctive travel
 experience. The two airlines may look different, but our core customer and employee focus is very much
 the same."

Today, Alaska Air Group boasts nearly 1,200 daily flights to 118 destinations, the most seats on flights
 from the West Coast and more than $7 billion annual revenues. Alaska Air Group will continue to
 provide customers the low fares, unmatched reliability and award-winning service they've come to
 enjoy, while offering a convenient schedule of flights to even more of the places they want to fly. Soon
 Virgin America customers will have access to a route network that offers six times more daily flights
 than before.

"This partnership is positive for California air travel consumers and demonstrates an investment in
 our state," said Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California. "Both airlines boast a strong history,
 and we look forward to seeing their innovative spirit magnified with their global international network
 of partner airlines."

The combination expands service and provides more frequent connections to international airline
 partners in thriving technology markets in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Seattle. Together, the airlines
 offer 289 daily flights to 52 destinations from California, including 113 daily nonstop flights to 32
 destinations from three Bay Area airports and 105 daily nonstop flights to 37 destinations from
 four Los Angeles area airports.

In addition, the combination opens up growth opportunities in important East Coast business markets
 by increasing Alaska Air Group's access to high-demand airports like Ronald Reagan Washington
 National Airport and the three primary New York City-area airports: John F. Kennedy International
Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.

The company also announced new flights from its San Francisco hub to Orlando (daily), Minneapolis
 (twice daily) and Orange County, California (four times daily) beginning in the summer of 2017.
 Schedule and availability will be announced Dec. 21.

The customer experience
Alaska has long been an industry leader in both customer satisfaction and performance. Customers
 can expect operational and customer service excellence to continue throughout the integration with
 Virgin America. Alaska has ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Carriers in
 North America, Nine Years in a Row" in the J.D. Power 2016 North America Airline Satisfaction Study,
 the No. 1 spot in the Wall Street Journal's annual Middle Seat Scorecard for the past three years, and
 has been named the No. 1 on-time major North American carrier by FlightStats for six years in a row.
To celebrate the airlines' combined nearly 1,200 daily flights, the company will give away 1,200
 round-trip flights starting today. Customers may enter the contest at

For customers with future travel already booked on Alaska Airlines or Virgin America, business
 continues as usual. Learn more about what the merger means for customers at

Expanded benefits with Alaska Mileage Plan
Starting Monday, December 19, Mileage Plan members will be able to earn miles on Virgin America
 flights, and Virgin America Elevate members will be able to earn points on Alaska Airlines flights.
Both airlines' elite members will receive priority check-in and priority boarding on each other's flights.
Additionally, starting Dec.19, customers will be able to purchase Virgin America tickets at
 Tickets will continue to be available for sale at for the immediate future.

Beginning January 9, Virgin America Elevate members will be invited by Alaska Airlines to activate new
Mileage Plan accounts. This will allow them to also earn Mileage Plan miles when flying with Alaska and
 any of Alaska's Global Partners to over 800 destinations worldwide. Alaska Global Partners account for
 44 percent of all international airline seats flown to and from the U.S. – more than any of the big three
 airline alliances – and offer more than three times the worldwide destinations that Virgin America
 frequent fliers currently have access to.

"Beginning Monday, Virgin America Elevate members and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members
will enjoy reciprocal rewards earning across each other's networks," said Tilden. "We plan to make
 this the most customer-friendly merger ever, and we will have much more to announce over the
 coming weeks."
Members of Alaska's award-winning Mileage Plan program enjoy:
  • The country's top-ranked airline loyalty program. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has been 
  • named the No. 1 airline rewards program two years in a row by U.S. News & World Report,
  •  and ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Airline Loyalty Rewards Programs, Three 
  • Years in a Row" in the J.D. Power 2016 Airline Loyalty Rewards Program Satisfaction Report
  • The ability to earn miles based on distance flown on Alaska, not just dollars spent
  • Access to over 800 worldwide destinations with Alaska and Alaska's Global Partners
  • Generous award travel availability
  • A faster path to elite status compared to other airline loyalty programs, with benefits including:
    • Complimentary seat upgrades
    • Waived change fees for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K
    • Free checked bags
    • Priority check-in and boarding
    • Express security for MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K
  • The option to apply for a popular credit card that offers cardholders one mile earned for every
  •  dollar spent on purchases, triple miles on Alaska Airlines purchases, a 30,000-mile new
  •  cardholder bonus after qualifying spend, an annual companion fare offer from $121
  •  ($99 plus taxes and fees starting from $22), a free checked bag on every flight and no
  •  foreign transaction fees
The future of the Virgin America brand
No decisions regarding the Virgin America brand have been made. Alaska plans to continue to
 operate the Virgin America fleet with its current name and product for a period of time while it
 conducts extensive customer research to understand what fliers value the most. Virgin America
 will continue to fly under its brand with no immediate changes to the onboard product or experience.
"We appreciate that there is great interest in the future of the Virgin America brand among customers
 and employees alike," said Tilden. "This is a big decision and one that deserves months of thoughtful
 and thorough analysis. We plan to make a decision about the Virgin America brand early next year."

An employee-centered approach
"Culture has been a real challenge in many mergers, so we're working to do things differently," said
 Ben Minicucci, Alaska's president and COO who will also become CEO of Virgin America today. "We
 are being very thoughtful about culture and are working to create an environment that reflects who
 we are and where we've been, that also enables us to work together, be bold, and succeed in a
 rapidly evolving industry."

Learn more about Alaska's approach to merging two cultures at
To celebrate the merger of two beloved West Coast airlines, Alaska leaders will join employees
 from Virgin America, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air later this morning at San Francisco International
 Airport for the unveiling of a co-branded Boeing 737 featuring a special, one-time livery painted in
 shimmering red, purple and blue. The aircraft features the slogan "More to love" and will fly
 throughout Alaska Airlines' route network starting today, in celebration of the increased customer
 benefits of the combination.

The combined company will be led by Alaska Air Group CEO Tilden. Ben Minicucci will serve as
 chief executive officer of Virgin America in addition to his role as chief operating officer and president
 of Alaska Airlines. Peter Hunt, previously Virgin America senior vice president and chief financial officer,
 will serve as president of the Virgin America subsidiary, reporting to Minicucci. Hunt will be based in
 the company's Burlingame, California regional headquarters. Both Minicucci and Hunt's positions are
 effective today, and remain in effect until the airlines obtain a single operating certificate from the
 FAA, expected in early 2018.

Alaska Airlines
Virgin America
Daily flights
32 million
8 million
40 million
Revenue (LTM 3Q16)
$5.8 billion
$1.6 billion
$7.4 billion
*Some overlap exists between the two airlines

About Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines, together with its regional partners, flies 32 million customers a year to more than
 110 cities with an average of 970 daily flights throughout the United States, Canada, Costa Rica,
 Mexico and soon Cuba. With Alaska's global airline partners, customers can earn and redeem
 miles to more than 800 destinations worldwide. Onboard, customers are invited to make the
 most of their flight with amenities like power outlets at every seat, streaming entertainment direct
 to their device, Wi-Fi and an inspired food and beverage selection featured on most flights. Alaska
 Airlines ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Carriers in North America"
 in the J.D. Power North American Airline Satisfaction Study for nine consecutive years from 2008
 to 2016. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan also ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Airline
 Loyalty Rewards Programs" in the J.D. Power Airline Loyalty/Rewards Program Satisfaction Report
 for the last three consecutive years. Alaska Airlines is a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK)
. Learn more on the airline's,
About Virgin America
Known for its mood-lit cabins, three beautifully designed classes of service and innovative fleetwide
 amenities — like touch-screen personal entertainment, WiFi and power outlets at every seat, Virgin
 America has built a loyal following of flyers and earned a host of awards since launching in 2007 —
 including being named the "Best U.S. Airline" in Condé Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards and
 "Best Domestic Airline" in Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards for the past nine consecutive years.
 For more:

* Alaska Airlines received the highest numerical score in the J.D. Power 2014-2016 Airline Loyalty Rewards
 Program Satisfaction Report. 2016 Report based on 3,073 total responses evaluating 7 programs, an
d measures the experience and perceptions of members who were surveyed March 2015. Your experiences
 may vary. Visit

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