Virgin America will be the latest airline brand to disappear

FILE - In this Monday, April 4, 2016, file photo, a Virgin America plane taxis past an Alaska Airlines plane waiting at a gate, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. Alaska said Wednesday, March 22, 2017, that it will retire the Virgin brand, probably in 2019. Alaska announced in 2016, that it was buying Virgin, but CEO Brad Tilden held out hope to Virgin fans that he might keep the Virgin America brand, and run it and Alaska as separate airlines under the same corporate umbrella. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, file photo, a Virgin Atlantic passenger plane crosses a waxing gibbous moon on its way to the Los Angeles International Airport, in Whittier, Calif. Alaska said Wednesday, March 22, 2017, that it will retire the Virgin brand, probably in 2019. Alaska announced in 2016, that it was buying Virgin, but CEO Brad Tilden held out hope to Virgin fans that he might keep the Virgin America brand, and run it and Alaska as separate airlines under the same corporate umbrella. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

DALLAS — After months of teasing, Alaska Airlines has bad news for loyal customers of Virgin America — their airline's name is being dumped.

Alaska announced late Wednesday that it will retire the Virgin brand, probably in 2019, adding that name to a list including Continental and US Airways that disappeared in the past decade.

Launching a new airline takes lots of money and patience — one reason that Virgin America's debut in 2007 was so eye-catching. The other was its hip vibe including mood lighting and young, attractive flight attendants.

So when Alaska announced last year that it was buying Virgin for $2.6 billion, it was like asking Virgin customers to trade in their sports car for a minivan — a solid, reliable ride, but not exciting.

Alaska Airlines knew it, too.

Last June, CEO Brad Tilden held out hope to Virgin fans that he might keep the Virgin America brand, and run it as a separate airline under the same corporate umbrella. Tilden said he believed in "the power of the Virgin America brand, and we don't want to lose all that loyalty."

But running an airline within an airline adds complexity and costs. Alaska flies only Boeing jets; Virgin uses Airbus planes. Sometimes a split personality works in the airline business, sometimes it doesn't — remember Ted, by United Airlines? And so Alaska's announcement came as no surprise to people in the business.

Still, many will be saddened, particularly in Virgin's home market of California.

Richard Branson, the British billionaire whose backing and minority ownership stake made the airline possible, posted a letter on Virgin's website bemoaning that Alaska couldn't find a place for Virgin.

"With a lot of things in life, there is a point where we have to let go and appreciate the fact that we had this ride at all," he wrote.

Branson added that it remains to be seen how travelers will be affected by the dwindling number of U.S. airlines. Mergers in recent years grounded US Airways, Continental, Northwest, AirTran, and America West. Airfares rose faster than inflation after those mergers, but then they fell in 2015 and 2016 as fuel became cheaper.

Virgin America played a role in those lower fares by engaging Southwest Airlines in a price war at Dallas Love Field.

Seattle-based Alaska won a bidding war with JetBlue Airways to buy Virgin. The deal will greatly expand Alaska's strength in California. Alaska recently announced it will greatly expand routes from the San Francisco Bay Area.

You may also interested in

The cave squeaker returns: Rare frog seen after decades

Feb 4, 2017

The cave squeaker returns: Rare frog not seen in decades found again in Zimbabwe

Interior chief urges shrinking 4 national monuments in West

Sep 18, 2017

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending that four large national monuments in the West be reduced in size

Dome of light to delight visitors to Louvre Abu Dhabi

Sep 27, 2017

Light from the Middle East sun and stars will be dancing over visitors to the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum when it opens in November, filtering through an aery dome with an Earthly weight of 7,500 tons _ 200 tons more than the iron of the Eiffel Tower

People also read these

The cave squeaker returns: Rare frog seen after decades

Feb 4, 2017

The cave squeaker returns: Rare frog not seen in decades found again in Zimbabwe

Interior chief urges shrinking 4 national monuments in West

Sep 18, 2017

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending that four large national monuments in the West be reduced in size

Dome of light to delight visitors to Louvre Abu Dhabi

Sep 27, 2017

Light from the Middle East sun and stars will be dancing over visitors to the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum when it opens in November, filtering through an aery dome with an Earthly weight of 7,500 tons _ 200 tons more than the iron of the Eiffel Tower

Weather, 20 December
Houston Weather
+7

High: +11° Low: -2°

Humidity: 83%

Wind: NNE - 7 KPH

Canberra Weather
+27

High: +27° Low: +17°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: W - 20 KPH

Roissy-en-France Weather
+6

High: +6° Low: -5°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: ENE - 7 KPH

Florence Weather
+9

High: +9° Low: +6°

Humidity: 97%

Wind: ENE - 17 KPH

Parga Weather
+7

High: +16° Low: +4°

Humidity: 100%

Wind: SE - 25 KPH