The FAA has awarded Alaska Air Group a single operating
certificate for Alaska Airlines and Virgin America.
The regulatory approval is a key step in the ongoing merger
of the two carriers that will lead to the eventual phase-out of the Virgin
America brand, but it won't affect flyers right away.
"The receipt of a single operating certificate will not
result in any immediate differences for guests when flying with Alaska or
Virgin America," Alaska said in a statement Thursday. For now, guests will
still use respective Alaska and Virgin America mobile apps, websites and
airport terminals when traveling.
Alaska Air Group plans to begin using a single reservation
system for Alaska and Virgin America on April 25, at which time it will move to
having just one website and mobile app, and selling all flights under the
Alaska closed its $2.6 billion acquisition of Virgin America
in December 2016. The company completed a significant passenger-facing
integration on Jan. 1 when it merged the Alaska Mileage and the Virgin America
Elevate frequent-flyer programs.
Alaska said that its employees logged approximately 70,000
hours and instituted 1,500 changes to policies and procedures as it worked to
obtain the single operating certificate.