Alaska Airlines Closing New York City Pilot Base

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Alaska Airlines announced that they will be closing their New York City base this fall, which means over 100 pilots who are currently based here will have to relocate to California if they want to retain employment with the airline, which acquired Virgin America back in 2016.

Last month we wrote about how Alaska Airlines will be ending service to New York (LGA), and cutting back at Washington Reagan (DCA), meaning Southwest Airlines will be expanding at both of these airports, which are currently slot restricted.


Pilots that fly routes from New York area airports, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, will relocate and deploy from West Coast hubs this fall. The company’s aircraft will still serve New York.

Prior to the merger, Virgin America competed with established airlines on this transcontinental route for over a decade, by advertising as the cool, alternative airline of Silicon Valley.

Mid-continental and East Coast routes accounted for 4 percent of the Alaska’s flight composition back in 2013, but it climbed to 10 percent after the merger. In that same timeframe, Alaska’s California presence has climbed from 15 percent to 25 percent in network composition, which could increase after the transition. 

Alaska now serves 115-plus destinations from seven hubs along the West Coast. The airline leads domestic seat share in Seattle, Portland and Anchorage. It ranks second in San Francisco and fifth at Los Angeles International Airport.

This change in bases, comes after the official merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America, which means goodbye to their NYC base. It’s unclear if they’ll still retain a flight attendant base in New York or if they’ll also be closing that.

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