The US Federal Aviation Administration has granted a single operating certificate to Alaska Airlines and Virgin America, a development that brings Alaska Air Group another step closer to fully merging the subsidiaries.
With the news, Alaska made good on chief executive Brad Tilden's prediction, made in September 2017, that the company would receive a single certificate on 11 January.
"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," says Seattle-based Alaska in a release.
Alaska purchased Virgin America in December 2016.
More than 110 staff from both carriers worked more than 70,000h to achieve the single operating certificate, reviewing some 39,000 pages of documents and 136 manuals and making some 1,500 policy changes, Alaska says.
As part of the process, Alaska issued Apple iPhones to Virgin America flight attendants. Alaska Airlines attendants already have the devices, Alaska says. The company is also working to supply iPads to Virgin America pilots, Alaska says.
In addition to the single certificate, Alaska on 1 January integrated Virgin's and Alaska's loyalty programmes and brought the airlines under a single payroll and benefits programme.
Alaska expects in March to transfer Virgin's Airbus operations control centre to the Seattle location of Alaska's flight control center.
The company is also working to adopt a single passenger service system, the technology controlling inventory, reservations and other functions, executives have said.
On 25 April, all Virgin flights will become Alaska flights, Alaska has confirmed.