Now we know that there are two bidders and we know who they are: JetBlue and Alaska Airlines
Virgin America Inc. received takeover offers from JetBlue Airways Corp. and Alaska Air Group Inc. after the carrier backed by billionaire Richard Branson put itself up for sale, according to people familiar with the matter.
Discussions between Virgin America and the two bidders are ongoing, and a deal could be announced as early as next week, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information. It is unclear if other suitors will emerge, and Virgin America may yet decide to abandon sale negotiations in favor of remaining independent.
When word first spread that Virgin America was shopping itself to potential buyers, I suggested that some-what similar JetBlue with strength on the East Coast could make sense as a pairing for the West Coast-based Virgin America.
And it’s conceivable that JetBlue, a more boutique-style carrier focused on New York, bulking up on the West Coast by aligning itself with Virgin America. Such a deal could actually make for a stronger competitor to the prevailing large four domestic airlines and increase rather than reducing competition.
We’ll see how this develops. Alaska would gain a San Francisco hub operation and East Coast slots, though they’ve been growing substantially without the acquisition and overfly San Francisco quite a bit with their current operation. JetBlue on the other hand would immediately become a bi-coastal player.