Alaska Airlines announced on Wednesday that it will retire the Virgin America brand sometime in 2019. The Seattle-based airline bought Virgin America last year for $US2.6 ($3) billion with the hope of expanding beyond the Pacific Northwest. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin America, apparently cried when he heard the news. Why? Well, it means he'll be losing money.
Repainting Virgin America planes with the Alaska Airlines logo and completely merging the two brands makes total sense. For one, Alaska Airlines has been paying Branson royalties for using the Virgin brand since the acquisition, and retiring the brand makes good financial sense. The newly merged airline says that it plans to incorporate Virgin America's "flair" into its entire fleet, albeit with some slight tweaks. The pink and purple mood lighting in the cabins will soon be blue, and all of the flight staff will get new uniforms. Free in-flight entertainment and fast Wi-Fi will be a permanent fixture on all Alaska Airlines flights in the near future, as well.
If you're sad to say goodbye to Virgin Airlines, don't cry just yet. There's still a chance that Branson could resurrect the brand and licence it to another airline. Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia aren't going anywhere, so Australians don't have to worry as much.
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