Reports today indicate that Virgin America has received takeover offers from both JetBlue Airways and Alaska Airlines. In addition, Delta Air Lines is said to be considering an offer for Virgin America.
The Virgin Amerca and JetBlue route structures seem to complement each other nicely. Virgin America has hubs at San Francisco and Los Angeles, plus a focus city at Dallas Love Field. The airline also flies between Las Vegas and New York (JFK), with seasonal flying between JFK and Fort Lauderdale. Except for Long Beach, JetBlue's hubs are on the East Coast (JFK, Boston, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale), plus San Juan.
Alaska Airlines' interest in Virgin America seems more defensive. Alaska's four hubs are all on the West Coast, in Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and Anchorage. Acquiring Virgin America would add a hub in San Francisco, the largest West Coast market where Alaska does not already have a hub, and increase Alaska's presence in the San Francisco Bay Area to make it Alaska's second largest market. Virgin America's network would also strengthen Alaska's existing Los Angeles hub (or eliminate a competitor).
In terms of fleets, Virgin America's fleet of 60 Airbus aircraft (10 A319s and 50 A320s) seems a better fit with JetBlue's fleet, which includes 157 Airbus aircraft (130 A320s and 27 A321s) and 60 Embraer E190s, though JetBlue's Airbus fleet uses IAE V2500 engines rather than the CFM56 engines used by Virgin America. In contrast, Alaska Airlnes operates an all-Boeing 737 fleet of 152 aircraft. (Alaska's fleet also includes five Canadair CRJ-700 and seven Embraer E175 aircraft though these are operated by SkyWest Airlines.)
Today's Featured Map shows Virgin America's current routes in red (Honolulu and Maui are off-map), plus planned LAX-Hawaii service in purple. Hubs for all three airlines are also highlighted (except for Anchorage) and marked in blue for JetBlue and green for Alaska Airlnes.
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Karl L. Swartz.
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