Alaska Airlines has received a single operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today for Alaska Airlines and Virgin America, marking another significant milestone in the integration of the two airlines, the company said.
The receipt of a single operating certificate will not result in any immediate differences for guests when flying with Alaska or Virgin America. For now, guests will still use respective Alaska and Virgin America mobile apps, websites and airport terminals when traveling. But when Alaska and Virgin America move to a single reservations system in late April 2018, guests can expect a more streamlined travel experience, with the Alaska mobile app and website serving their travel needs.
Alaska closed its purchase of Virgin America in December 2016. Since then, a tremendous amount of work and planning has been done to align the operating policies and procedures of the two carriers, which is part of the thorough regulatory requirements established by the FAA to achieve a single operating certificate.
More than 110 employees from both airlines worked to obtain the single operating certificate. They logged approximately 70,000 hours; reviewed 346 different operational topics across 136 manuals; analyzed more than 39,000 pages of material; and instituted roughly 1,500 changes to policies and procedures throughout 68 various manuals. More than 10,500 frontline employees have been trained on the updated policies and procedures. As part of the single operating certificate approval process, Virgin America flight attendants were issued iPhones for their work duties, matching their Alaska counterparts; Virgin America pilots are now going through a validation period to receive iPads, similar to Alaska´s pilots.
Alaska Airlines, together with Virgin America and its regional partners, flies 40 million guests a year to more than 115 destinations with an average of 1,200 daily flights across the United States and to Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica and Cuba. With Alaska and Alaska Global Partners, guests can earn and redeem miles on flights to more than 900 destinations worldwide. Alaska Airlines, Virgin America and Horizon Air are subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK).