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Alaska Air completes takeover of Virgin America

Alaska-Virgin branded plane
An Alaska Airlines jet sports a paint job that pays homage to Virgin America’s red color scheme as it taxis at San Francisco International Airport. (Boeing Airplanes Photo via Twitter)

Alaska Air Group completed its acquisition of Virgin America today, celebrating the rise of the nation’s No. 5 air carrier with a co-branded jet painted in blue, purple and red.

“Alaska Airlines and Virgin America are different airlines, but we believe different works – and we’re confident fliers will agree,” Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Air Group, said in a news release.

The acquisition follows through on months of work to seal the $2.6 billion deal ($4 billion, including debt and aircraft operating leases). The U.S. Department of Justice gave its regulatory approval last week after tweaking the terms to comply with antitrust requirements.

The combined airlines vaulted Alaska Air Group from No. 6 to No. 5 on the list of U.S. carriers – past JetBlue, which had courted Virgin America as well. Alaska and Virgin America are projected to generate more than $7 billion in annual revenue and operate about 280 aircraft.

For the time being, the all-Boeing Alaska Airlines fleet and the all-Airbus Virgin America fleet will retain their separate brands. Except for one plane.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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