SAN FRANCISCO, March 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Virgin America, the award-winning domestic airline, today announces the appointment of thirty-year aviation industry veteran Steve Forte as the Company's new Chief Operating Officer. Forte will be the California-based airlines first ever COO, with oversight of Flight Operations, the Operation Control Center, Aircraft Maintenance, Safety and Guest Services.
"We're extremely pleased to bring aboard someone with Steve's impressive depth of operational experience," said David Cush, Virgin America's President and Chief Executive Officer. "He brings both a wealth of technical skills and a breadth of aviation management experience that will further strengthen the operating excellence of Virgin America."
Forte spent most of his career at United Airlines, starting as a pilot, progressing through the ranks of Flight Operations management and ultimately serving as SVP-Flight Operations and Director of Operations, a position he held from 1999 to 2006. As a senior executive at United Airlines, Forte played a critical role in leading the company through complex business events including United's financial restructuring. Since then, he has served as President and CEO of two aviation software companies, including one (Naverus Inc.) that was acquired by GE Aviation. He has accumulated more than 14,000 flight hours in dozens of aircraft types, and is qualified on the Airbus A320, the family of aircraft operated by Virgin America.
Most recently Forte was Chief Executive Officer of iJet Onboard, a privately-held provider of platform-based aviation software services. Prior to that, Forte was CEO of Naverus Inc., a global leader in performance-based navigation software. A former Chairman of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operations Council and the Air Transport Association (ATA) Operations Committee, Forte has worked closely with global airlines, manufacturers, and regulators on a variety of industry issues.
Forte holds both a Bachelor of Arts and an MBA from the University of Arizona. He will report to Cush and be based at Virgin America's Burlingame, California headquarters. Forte's first day with the company will be April 8.
Since its August 2007 launch, Virgin America has grown its fleet to 53 aircraft, expanded to 19 airport destinations, created 2,600 new jobs, signed up 2.6 million Elevate® loyalty program members and swept the reader-based travel awards, including "Best Domestic Airline" in Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards. In April, Virgin America will inaugurate service to its 20th airport destination – Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) followed by new service San Jose Norman Y. Mineta International Airport (SJC) and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) in May and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) in June.
About Virgin America: Headquartered in California, Virgin America offers guests attractive fares and a host of innovative features aimed at reinventing air travel. Virgin America was named "Best Domestic Airline" in the Conde Nast Traveler 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 'Readers' Choice' Awards and "Best Domestic Airline" in Travel + Leisure's 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 'World's Best' Awards. The airline's base of operations is San Francisco International Airport (SFO)'s sleek and sustainable new Terminal 2. The airline's new aircraft offer interactive in-flight entertainment systems and power outlets near every seat. Virgin America offers Gogo™ WiFi on every flight and hosts the largest in-flight entertainment library in the North American skies via the touch-screen Red™ platform. For more: www.virginamerica.com
SOURCE Virgin America