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Hip Virgin America Brand Up In the Air After Acquisition By Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines reported record net income in the second quarter of 2016.
Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines reported record net income in the second quarter of 2016.

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 permitthe 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.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.
Tom Banse
Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.