Skift Take

It looks like the airline consolidation trend is trickling down beyond the legacy carriers to the next tier. Virgin America is in play, and JetBlue and Alaska are vying to win the game. Additional suitors may emerge before this is over.

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.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that the carrier, which flies to destinations throughout the U.S. and Mexico, was working with financial advisers on a sale after receiving takeover interest. Virgin America’s stock has been up almost 10 percent since then, giving it a market capitalization of $1.3 billion.

Virgin America, based in Burlingame, California, sold stock in a $353 million initial public offering less than 18 months ago, pricing its shares at $23 apiece, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Alaska spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said the company doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation. JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw said the carrier had the same policy. Virgin America didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

–With assistance from Mary Schlangenstein.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ed Hammond in New York at ehammond12@bloomberg.net; David Welch in Southfield, Michigan at dwelch12@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeffrey McCracken at jmccracken3@bloomberg.net Paula Schaap

This article was written by Ed Hammond and DAVID WELCH from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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Tags: alaska, jetblue airways, virgin america

Photo credit: With its Wi-Fi, hip decor and pay-as-you-go food and beverage services, Virgin America has been a hit with many passengers. Virgin America

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