Alaska calls for transparency in Virgin America ownership

Washington DC
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Alaska Airlines continues to press the US Department of Transportation to investigate Virgin America's US citizenship status.

In February Seattle-based Alaska asked the agency to examine its rival's ownership structure, citing media reports that US investors may sell their shares back to the Virgin Group.

Alaska and Virgin America compete in markets primarily on north-south corridors on the US West Coast. Previously, Alaska executives have said Virgin America's fares were way below both Virgin America and Alaska's costs.

Alaska CFO Glenn Johnson today during a presentation at the JP Morgan Aviation and Transportation Conference said that Alaska's request was less about competition and more about transparency.

If reports about US investors attempting to put their Virgin America stake back to Virgin are credible, Johnson says it is "all the more important" for DOT to examine the carrier's ownership structure.

Johnson says if the scrutiny shows that Virgin America is not majority-owned by US stakeholders than the carrier is not eligible for an operating certificate. "We'll let DOT decide."

Virgin America has previously dismissed Alaska's argument as meaningless, noting it is full compliance with US law and DOT regulations.