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Alaska Airlines reaches milestone in takeover of Virgin America

FILE - An Alaska Airlines jet sits next to a Virgin America jet at Sea-Tac Airport (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - Thursday marks the beginning of a new era for Virgin America and Alaska Airlines, as both begin to fly under a single operating certificate.

That means the Federal Aviation Administration will consider Alaska and Virgin to be a single company.

It's the latest step in the gradual integration of the Virgin fleet and workforce into Alaska Airlines, which acquired Virgin America in December 2016 for $2.6 billion. The merger has made Alaska the fifth-largest airline in the U.S., operating over 1,200 daily flights to more than 120 cities across North America.

Travelers will still see Virgin planes taking off - but their days are numbered.

April 24 will be the last day to book a flight on Virgin America's website. The next day, customers will be redirected to Alaska's site.

By late 2019, the Virgin America brand will likely disappear altogether.

Some Virgin touches will be continued on Alaska planes, however - including a library of free entertainment for passengers to access on personal devices and high-speed satellite wi-fi for the entire fleet by 2019.

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