Alaska Airlines' proposed takeover of rival Virgin America remains on course pending federal approval expected late this year. That's according to Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden. Tilden told Wall Street analysts Thursday that he's still undecided about whether to keep the Virgin America brand alive after the acquisition goes through.
"We're also doing in-depth market research to better understand the elements of Virgin America's product and brand that customers love most, especially in California,” Tilden said. “We expect to have a final decision on the brand in early 2017."
Tilden said his staff is "spending a lot of time" pondering how to merge the different cultures of Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and San Francisco-based Virgin America.
The CEO's comments came in conjunction with a second quarter earnings release showing higher revenues and a better-than-expected quarterly profit.
During the earnings conference call, Alaska's Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Harrison announced that the airline has acquired four additional landing slots at capacity-constrained Newark airport near New York City. He said that will permit the launch in coming months of a new route between Portland and Newark as well as a third daily roundtrip between Seattle and Newark.
San Diego and San Jose will also get new nonstops to the East Coast. The new service to Newark Liberty International Airport from Portland and San Diego will start in November. The transcontinental expansion from San Jose will follow in March 2017, with a new redeye from Seattle to Newark completing the quartet of added flights next May.