It seems that Alaska Airlines and Virgin America are aiming to celebrate their pending merger with a special livery on one Alaska Airlines plane. An image of the paint job showed up online late this past week and, well, it is interesting. Mixing the Blue of Alaska Airlines and the red of Virgin America the plane fades to purple in the middle with the slogan “More to Love” down the fuselage.
Love it or hate it (I’m in the latter camp, though I like the rendering of the Eskimo this way), there’s arguably a bigger question around the paint job and its timing. FlightAware shows the plane arriving in Victorville on 11 September 2016. Presumably that’s where the paint work was done. But why the 7+ weeks on the ground? Even a full-bode job like this one with multiple layers and gradients shouldn’t take that long to complete.
My guess is that the painted plane went on hold as the two companies were forced to extend the deadline for review and negotiation with the DoJ regarding the proposed deal. That delay announcement came in late September and could easily have been sufficient to push off the unveiling of the new plane. And it is a new plane; it was delivered in early 2016. So this almost certainly wasn’t an extended maintenance visit. The fact that the newly delayed date to close the merger came and went without much in the way of commentary from the carriers is also slightly awkward. At least it is the off-season for flying so the company can afford to be down an aircraft while waiting this out.