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Alaska reports smooth operations after reservations switch

Alaska Air Group's "cutover" this morning to a single reservations system has not caused cancellations or otherwise disrupted the company's network, suggesting Alaska might have completed without major hiccups a task that has marred previous airline mergers.

But the day is young.

Alaska made the cutover – adopting a single system for reservations, sales, scheduling, check-in – the same day it scrubbed Virgin America's brand from airports, adding that company's logo to a long list of shuttered airline brands.

The Seattle company tells FlightGlobal it has suffered "no operational disruptions and no cancellations due to the cutover".

Airport operational data seems to confirm that statement.

Alaska has cancelled no departing or arriving flights at San Francisco as of about 10:00 local time on 25 April, according to FlightStats, a unit of FlightGlobal.

San Francisco is largely the hub for Alaska's formerly-Virgin Airbus narrowbodies.

Alaska's operation is also running smoothly in other airports where it has a large presence, including Dallas Love Field, Las Vegas McCarren International airport, Los Angeles International airport, New York John F Kennedy International airport and Seattle-Tacoma International airport, FlightStats shows.

Seattle-based Alaska acquired Virgin America in December 2016 for $2.6 billion, and has since been merging Virgin with Alaska Airlines.

The company has already adopted a single frequent flyer programme, merged various computer systems and received a single operating certificate from the US Federal Aviation Administration.

But the reservation cutover is the most-watched merger milestone – one frequently cited for disrupting flights and passengers.

The step enables Alaska to operate largely as one airline, allowing it to shift different aircraft types throughout the network and bring Virgin into Alaska's codeshare partnerships, chief executive Brad Tilden has said.

On 23 April, Tilden assured investors Alaska was prepared for the computer switch, predicting a smooth transition.

Alaska last October had stopped taking new reservations in Virgin America's system, instead processing everyone in Alaska's systems, he said.

As a result, no reservations actually needed to be transferred between systems, he said.

Alaska also said it would remove all Virgin America branding from airports overnight, switching entirely to Alaska's brand.

The Virgin America brand, however, will remain on the tails of Airbus aircraft plying US skies until at least the latter half of 2019, when Alaska plans to complete a fleet-wide repainting, it has said.

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