Earlier today, Alaska Air Group agreed to buy Virgin America for $2.6 billion ($57 a share), a 47% premium to Virgin’s Friday Close. Many are speculating this is an attempt to have less competition among airlines — as the story unfolds throughout the day, we will provide updates on the merger.

1:50 PM PST Virgin America may be leading in the mentions game, but after today’s merger, Alaska Air has the most popular tweet:

12:45 PM PST In terms of mention volume across the United States, Virgin America is is carrying the conversation by 53%:

11:09 AM PST Slow and steady wins the race. Even with Alaska Airlines and Virgin America’s massive announcement today, United Airlines still ranks within the top three among airliner mentions for the week:

10:59 AM PST Who is driving Alaska Airlines conversation? Virgin. And vice versa within the Virgin America discussion:

9:52 AM PST In comparison to Alaska Airlines, Virgin America is (slightly) carrying the conversation with 52% of the Share of Voice:

And with Jet Blue included in the mix (the other airliner rumored to merge with Virgin America), Virgin still leads in mentions:

9:42 AM PST In the last 24 hours, Virgin America has generated nearly 30,000 mentions. As seen below, these mentions spiked as soon as the story broke:

8:00 AM PST How is the public reacting to this merger? Emojis give you an idea. With Virgin America, sad emojis (?, ?, ?, ?) are being used the most. This possibly indicates that many are upset about losing the Virgin America brand to Alaska.

On the other hand, ? is being used alongside mentions of Alaska Airlines. One can assume this means the people are excited for the airliner in its acquisition, complementing their tweets with the OK Hand Sign emoji:

7:51 AM PST Since breaking this morning, news of the deal has dominated Trending Stories for both Virgin America…

…and Alaska Airlines:

Top Sites sharing the stories include Mashable, CNN Money, and Reuters:

Stay tuned — we’ll be back soon with more updates on Alaska Airlines’ merger with Virgin America.