Today, January 11th, 2018 is the day that Alaska Airlines and Virgin America will get a single operating certificate (SOC), meaning the FAA considers them one airline.
As part of this, Virgin America’s call sign of “Redwood” is gone, with all flights operated by Virgin America now flying with a call sign of “Alaska”. “Redwood” is one of the more unique call signs in the world as it is not just the airline’s name like most call signs and stems from Redwood trees that are found in California, where Virgin America’s hubs of Los Angeles and San Francisco are located.
While Virgin America and Alaska Airlines are now operating under a single operating certificate, the merger is still far from complete. Flights can still be booked through the Virgin America website until April 25th. Terminal operations are not integrated either, as only a couple of airports have Alaska and Virgin America using the same terminal.
The first Virgin America aircraft in the Alaska Airlines paint scheme has also yet to be seen, although there are multiple hints that this is right around the corner and is much more likely now that the two airlines have a single operating certificate. The first is from one of Virgin America’s new A321NEO aircraft, registration N925VA. This aircraft is painted in a special paint scheme “Most West Coast” advertising the combined airline’s expansive route network on the West Coast. As seen below, this paint scheme features Alaska Airlines colors, but noticeably absent is the face found on the tail of the Alaska Airlines aircraft. Some have reported that the tail is a decal, and in certain situations the iconic Alaska Airlines face can be seen underneath. Now that the airlines have a single operating certificate, the decal could come off at anytime if this is indeed the case.
The second comes in the form of another special livery on the A321NEO, which appears to be identical to Alaska’s “More to Love” livery which is on N493AS, a Boeing 737-900ER.
Recently, an A321NEO rolled out of the Airbus factory in Hamburg which can be viewed at this link. The only part painted so far, the tail, appears nearly identical to the tail of N493AS. This will be the first Virgin America aircraft to be delivered with the Alaska Airlines logo on it. This also begs the question as to what Alaska will do to its “Proudly all Boeing” insignia found on the nose of each of its mainline aircraft despite regional carriers already operating Embraer and Bombardier products on behalf of Alaska.
As time goes on, the airlines will continue to integrate operations, with offices being consolidated into a single headquarters, flights from both airline using the same terminals and gates, and a decision as to what Alaska will do with the Airbus aircraft. Alaska could decide to keep these aircraft or replace them with the 737MAX, to keep an all Boeing fleet. Alaska currently has an order for 32 737MAX aircraft, while Virgin America has orders for 36 more A320NEO series aircraft.
Featured image by Virgin America.