The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a single operating certificate for Alaska Airlines and Virgin America. A year after Alaska acquired Virgin America, the certification now allows the two airlines to operate as a single carrier, thus putting the latter carrier a step closer to cease existing.

"This is a big moment for our company. We're now recognized as one airline in the eyes of the FAA," said Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines' president and chief operating officer and CEO of Virgin America. "I want to congratulate and thank the teams at Alaska and Virgin America for their tireless work to get this done on time, including Gary Beck, the executive sponsor who led this project from the beginning. The CAVOK Group was also instrumental with this massive effort. And we greatly appreciate the assistance of the FAA, the Department of Transportation and other agencies as we accomplished this major milestone."

Alaska Airlines notes that the single operating certificate will not result in any immediate differences for passengers, as the two carriers will still use their respective mobile apps, websites and airport terminals.

In order to achieve a single operating certificate, the two carriers had to align their operating policies and procedures. For the next steps of closer cooperation, in March 2018 Airbus operations control center will be co-located with one for Boeing aircraft at Alaska's Flight Operations Center in Seattle. In April 2018 the two carriers plan to launch a single reservations system.