Alaska Airlines has officially acquired Burlingame-based Virgin America after finalizing a deal worth more than $2 billion, making the Seattle-based company the fifth-largest airline in the United States, according to the airlines.
Alaska and Virgin America celebrated the acquisition with a red carpet event at San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday, which featured a special Boeing 737-900ER comemmorative aircraft painted in the colors of each aircraft's brand.
The red, purple and blue-hued "More to Love" plane flew from Seattle to San Francisco and was greeted by more than 200 Virgin America employees as well as Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden.
"Alaska Airlines and Virgin America are different airlines, but we believe different works – and we're confident fliers will agree," Tilden said in a statement.
The newly-assembled partnership will now offer 1,187 daily flights to 118 spots across North America, Central America and the Caribbean, according to the airlines. The airline will also transport passengers to more than 800 destinations across the globe.
For those who have been stockpiling reward miles with either airline in the past, they will be able to continue to add to their cache no matter if they purchase from Alaska or Virgin America beginning Dec. 19.
The following month, frequent flyers belonging to either airline will also enjoy the award travel benefits offered by both networks. That program kicks off on Jan. 9.
The first 360 photo embedded in this story shows the "More to Love" plane at the Virgin America terminal at SFO. The second photo shows Virgin American and Alaska Air employees attending Wednesday's announcement about the acquisition. All photographs by NBC Bay Area's Michael Horn.
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