Alaska Airlines closing New York base in September. And hence, asking more than 100 pilots to relocate to California. The airline acquired Virgin America in April 2016 for a reported $4 billion which grew Alaska into the fifth largest airline in the U.S.
Both aircraft and pilots, which flew routes from JFK, Newark EWR and La Guardia, will relocate. They will deploy from West Coast hubs. Virgin America competed with established airlines on this trans-continental route for over a decade as an alternative airline of Silicon Valley.
“This was a difficult to take this decision. It based on the need to match our pilot staffing with the geographic areas on the West Coast where we deploy our aircraft every day. All of our JFK-based pilots are being offered the opportunity to transfer to either Los Angeles or San Francisco.”
Alaska currently operates five flights a day from JFK to both LAX and SFO, with lower service offerings from EWR. The flights could be decreased to one or two per day departing from San Francisco and Los Angeles and arriving at JFK and EWR from September.
Alaska Airlines says its growth model consists of three parts, flying customers to desired locations for affordable fares, building loyalty through benefit programs and adding network depth and frequency.
Alaska has promised the integration of Virgin America would complete 85 percent by June of this year. However, pilots who are now Alaskan employees are still wearing Virgin uniforms, wings and flying Virgin branded aircraft.