Alaska Airlines gets US approval to buy Virgin America

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  • FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, photo, fueling manager Jarid Svraka looks on as he fuels an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800 jet with a new, blended alternative jet fuel, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash. On Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, Alaska Airlines said it has won government approval to buy rival Virgin America after agreeing to reduce its flight-selling partnership with American Airlines. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

    FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, photo, fueling manager Jarid Svraka looks on as he fuels an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800 jet with a new, blended alternative jet fuel, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash. On Tuesday, Dec. 6,... 2016, Alaska Airlines said it has won government approval to buy rival Virgin America after agreeing to reduce its flight-selling partnership with American Airlines. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, file photo, a Virgin Atlantic passenger plane crosses a waxing gibbous moon on its way to the Los Angeles International Airport, in Whittier, Calif. On Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, Alaska Airlines said it has won government approval to buy rival Virgin America after agreeing to reduce its flight-selling partnership with American Airlines. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

    FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, file photo, a Virgin Atlantic passenger plane crosses a waxing gibbous moon on its way to the Los Angeles International Airport, in Whittier, Calif. On Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, Alaska Airlines said it has won ... government approval to buy rival Virgin America after agreeing to reduce its flight-selling partnership with American Airlines. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File) (The Associated Press)

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

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Parent company Alaska Air Group Inc. said Tuesday that it expects to close the $2.6 billion deal soon.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit and settlement agreement in federal district court in Washington. Seattle-based Alaska agreed to scale back a deal in which it and American sell seats on some of each other's flights and split the revenue.

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 expressed confidence they can resolve that lawsuit, which is pending in federal district court in San Francisco.