Richard Branson

Alaska Airlines gets US approval to buy Virgin America

Alaska Airlines has won government approval to buy rival Virgin America after agreeing to reduce its flight-selling partnership with American Airlines.

Parent company Alaska Air Group Inc. said Tuesday that it expects to close the $2.6 billion deal soon and greatly increase its presence in the huge California market.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit and settlement agreement in federal district court in Washington.

Seattle-based Alaska is the nation's sixth-biggest airline, and California-based Virgin is eighth. Together, they will become the fifth-biggest.

The airlines still face a private lawsuit to block the deal. Alaska and Virgin executives have...

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