SAN FRANCISCO, April 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Virgin America, the only California-based airline, teamed up with environmental science education program NatureBridge for Earth Day 2014. Virgin America teammate volunteers pitched in at Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands to help clean up the shoreline, remove invasive plants and preserve the area's biodiversity. Across the country, Virgin America teammates in other cities also are participating in local environmental clean-up events in support of Earth Day throughout April. In addition to Virgin America's efforts on the ground, guests flying Virgin America will be able to join the effort from 35,000 feet by donating to NatureBridge or Carbonbund.org this month via the donation platform on the airline's Red™ in-flight entertainment system. Virgin America was the first domestic airline to offer guests the ability to offset the carbon emissions from their flight by using the Red seatback touch-screen entertainment system via the nonprofit Carbonfund.org.
"As California's hometown airline, sustainability is just as important to us as it is to our community, teammates and guests," said Abby Lunardini Vice President of Brand Marketing and Communications at Virgin America. "Having a partner like NatureBridge to help educate our teammates and provide opportunities for Earth Day where we can assist in the protection and restoration of our state's natural resources is an important part of our culture and mission."
Virgin America teammates' efforts at Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands will help to preserve the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is known for its tide pools, wildflowers and unique rock formations. NatureBridge educators led the airline's teammates as they helped improve the coastline by removing non-native, invasive plant species along the beach.
"We are so pleased to partner with Virgin America, an airline that has demonstrated its commitment to the environment and sustainability," said Susan Smartt, NatureBridge President and CEO. "Partnerships like this are key to our ability to expand and reach new audiences and help us in our mission to foster environmental literacy for a sustainable planet through hands-on environmental science in our national parks."
Virgin America's Earth Day efforts stretch across the nation, with teammate participation in clean-up and restoration projects in each of the airline's destination cities. Virgin America teammates are supporting clean-up efforts in locations including Austin, the Blue Hills Reservation in Boston, Grapevine Botanical Gardens in Dallas, Snyder Park in Fort Lauderdale, Rockaway Beach in New York, Paseo Verde Park in Las Vegas, Dockweiler State Beach in Los Angeles, Southport Park in Orlando, Busse Woods Cook County Forest Preserve in Chicago, Pacific Beach in San Diego and South Marina Park in Seattle. Volunteers include members of Virgin America's Green Team – a teammate-led group focused on finding innovative ways across the airline's operations to reduce the company's footprint.
Since its 2007 launch, Virgin America has made environmentally sustainable practices part of its training and operations. The carrier operates a fleet of 53 new Airbus A320-family aircraft that is up to 20% more CO2 efficient than the average U.S. fleet. The airline employs environmentally friendly practices, such as minimizing use of auxiliary power units, single-engine taxiing, electronic flight bags, idle reverse landings, utilizing advanced avionics to fly more efficiently and cost index flying – the practice of regulating speed to reduce fuel burn. In 2011, the airline became the anchor tenant at San Francisco International Airport's beautiful and sustainable Terminal 2 (T2) – the first major LEED® Gold-certified airport terminal in the U.S. Virgin America is making additional investments within its T2 spaces to ultimately achieve LEED® Platinum-certification.
About Virgin America: Headquartered in California's Silicon Valley and known for its mood-lit cabins, three beautifully designed classes of service and innovative fleetwide amenities — like touch-screen personal entertainment, WiFi and power outlets at every seat, Virgin America has built a loyal following of flyers and earned a host of awards since launching in 2007 — including being named both the "Best U.S. Airline" in Conde Nast Traveler'sReaders' Choice Awards and "Best Domestic Airline" in Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards for the past six consecutive years. In April 2013, Virgin America topped the 2012 Airline Quality Rating, a research project conducted by faculty at Wichita State University and Purdue University that analyzes airline operational performance as reported by the Department of Transportation. The airline's base of operations is San Francisco International Airport (SFO)'s sleek and sustainable Terminal 2. Virgin America has created 2,700 jobs and flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Newark, Washington D.C. (IAD and DCA), Las Vegas, San Diego, Seattle, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Cabos, Cancun, Chicago, Puerto Vallarta, Palm Springs (seasonal), Philadelphia, Portland and Austin. The Red™ touch-screen entertainment platform offers guests on every Virgin America flight their own seatback screen, with 25 films, live TV, interactive Google Maps, videogames, a 4,000 song library and an on-demand menu, which allows flyers to order a cocktail or snack from their seatback any time during a flight. In addition to a Main Cabin that offers custom-designed leather seating with a deeper, more comfortable pitch, the airline's First Class offers white leather seating with 55 inches of pitch, 165 degrees of recline and lumbar massagers. The carrier's Main Cabin Select option offers 38-inches of pitch, free food and cocktails, an all-access pass to media content, dedicated overhead bins and priority check-in/boarding. In 2012, Virgin America opened its first airport lounge, The Loft at LAX, and rolled out enhancements to its Elevate frequent flyer program — including status levels. For more: www.virginamerica.com
About NatureBridge: Founded in 1971, NatureBridge provides environmental science education for students in the world's best classrooms—our national parks. Through residential education programs, NatureBridge connects students to the wonder and science of nature and inspires the stewards of tomorrow. As the largest residential education partner of the National Park Service, the organization serves more than 30,000 students each year and offers programs in six national parks: Yosemite National Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Olympic National Park, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Channel Islands National Park, and Prince William Forest Park. NatureBridge also offers professional development opportunities for teachers and family and youth programs. NatureBridge is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. For more information, visit: naturebridge.org