Paying $2.6 Billion for Virgin America, Alaska Airlines is solidifying itself as the premier West Coast airline and 5th largest in the country. This will result in better flight options and lower prices on major routes from Central Oregon. 


TERMS OF THE DEAL

Alaska Airlines will pay $57 a share in cash for Virgin America stock resulting in a $2.6 billion dollar purchase price. When including debt and aircraft operating leases, the deal might be worth as much as $4 billion, according to Alaska. The merger has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is subject to approval by regulators and shareholders. It is expected to be completed by the beginning of next year.

WHY THIS IS HUGE FOR BEND

Alaska Airlines flies more than any other airline to and from Roberts Field in nearby Redmond (RDM). Alaska currently flies to the area via Portland and Seattle, which are also major hubs for Virgin America. Central Oregon residents should expect to see major deals to new and familiar destinations across the country as the deal gets closer to closing. Particularly interesting will be the expanded options from Portland which will also result in better flight schedules. 

COMPETITION, NEW AIRPORTS, and SHORTER FLIGHTS TO THE EAST COAST

Bend/Redmond will see new scheduling options and better pricing to and from New York City and Washington DC with this merger. With direct flights from Portland to all New York city airports (which Alaska Airlines only offers from Seattle not PDX...and doesn't include Laguardia in NYC) the options for business and leisure travel in the Big Apple are going to multiply. Also of note, Virgin America flies direct to Washington DC's Dulles International Airport which has more frequency than DC's Reagan airport currently served by Alaska via PDX. 

CHEAPER FLIGHTS TO HAWAII and MEXICO

All of the airlines currently flying out of RDM already serve Hawaii and Mexico but it won't hurt to have increased frequency and more options for winter getaways with the addition of the Virgin America flights. 

THE BIG PICTURE

The residents of Central Oregon are going to benefit from this deal much more than we can even anticipate at this time. As the main airline serving Roberts Field, Alaska Airlines is positioned to bring more destinations, better flight schedules, and cheaper prices to Bend. 



image: Redwood in a blue sky. (cc) stuart.mike