SAN FRANCISCO, August 9 /PRNewswire/ -- This week, Virgin America, the California-based airline that is reinventing travel, marks its third year anniversary with festivities that celebrate the airline’s continued expansion, unique team and award-winning service. To help mark birthday number three, Mayor Gavin Newsom has once again proclaimed the airline’s anniversary date of August 8, 2010, “Virgin America Day” in the City of San Francisco. Later this week, the airline will celebrate with sports fans at “Virgin America Night at AT&T Park” at the San Francisco Giants home game on Friday August 13, 2010. As a special thanks to its hometown, Virgin America will offer all attendees at AT&T Park an exclusive two-for-one offer on the airline that just last month captured Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Domestic Airline title for the third consecutive year.
"Since Virgin America’s 2007 launch, we’ve experienced record-setting growth and have been recognized for our unrivalled service in all the major reader-based travel awards. With expansion to at least five new cities in 2010 and plans to triple our fleet size by 2016, we’re pleased to be growing, winning over consumers and injecting new competition into the industry,” said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. "We wouldn’t be where we are today without the hard work of our teammates – and the support of this community and our guests.”
With just three years under its belt, Virgin America has much to celebrate with major growth ahead and a list of industry best-in-class awards, including “Best Domestic Airline” in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and “Best Domestic Airline” in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2008 and 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards. Virgin America has been ramping up for even more rapid expansion, with at least five new destinations slated for 2010 and three to four additional new destinations planned a year from 2011-2016. Last month at the Farnborough International Air Show, the airline announced its plans to order 40 new A320 aircraft, with options for 20 additional aircraft. Virgin America’s fleet is projected to grow from its current 28 aircraft in-service to 90 aircraft by 2016.
“Congratulations to San Francisco’s hometown airline – Virgin America on its third-year anniversary,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. “Since the airline’s launch in 2007, Virgin America has created hundreds of jobs, lowered fares and helped make SFO one of the nation’s few growing airports. The City is proud to have Virgin America call the Bay Area its home and we look forward to their continued expansion in the years to come.”
Virgin America continues to expand at its base of operations at San Francisco International Airport, as one of two anchor tenants in the airport’s new $383 million Silver LEED certified Terminal 2 facility – which is slated to open in the second quarter of 2011. The airline also intends to double its teammate base over the next three years.
At “Virgin America Night at AT&T Park,” the airline’s teammates and friends will be out en masse, cheering for San Francisco, as well as for one of their own colleagues. This week at the Company’s annual birthday barbeque for teammates and their families, the airline held a fastest pitch contest. The “best arm” won the coveted chance to throw out the first pitch at AT&T Park on the night of August 13, 2010.
“Our teammates have helped build a new kind of airline from the guest up, by designing an experience based on what travelers actually want. With a product unlike anything else in the domestic skies and a passionate team, we know that we’ll continue to push the industry forward and elevate the flying experience for years to come,” added Cush.
Virgin America has proven to be one of the fastest growing U.S. airlines in history. Since launching on August 8, 2007, the airline has grown to more than 1600 teammates and more than 100 flights a day with service to ten destinations, including its home base of San Francisco International Airport. The only airline based in California, Virgin America has a brand new 28-aircraft A320-family fleet and has completed more than 82,000 flights, welcomed nearly 50 million visitors to its Web site, and served nearly 9 million guests since its launch. Operationally, Virgin America continues to excel, achieving a consistently high and impressive 85.3 percent A-14 on-time ranking for January – December 2009. The carrier’s mishandled baggage rate for 2009 was 1.23 mishandled baggage reports per 1000 guests, versus the industry average of 3.91.
With industry-leading guest service, beautiful design and a host of high-tech amenities, Virgin America has injected some healthy competition into the domestic airline market. The airline offers unrivalled value with low fares and innovative features like touch-screen seatback entertainment, WiFi, power outlets, mood-lighting and custom-designed leather seating with a deeper, more comfortable pitch. Virgin America’s staff training includes a special focus on delivering concierge-like guest care. In addition to ongoing training, Virgin America’s annual “Refresh,” program brings every teammate in the Company back to headquarters for a two-day session focused on building the best guest experience in the skies.
In its third year of flying, Virgin America has marked a few other notable highlights:
- In July 2010, the airline debuted the first-ever digital seatback shopping platform via the Red store;
- In July 2010, the airline announced plans to order 40 new A320 aircraft, with an option for 20 – one of largest orders placed by a U.S. domestic airline;
- In July 2010, the airline became the first to capture Travel + Leisure's World's Best Award for “Best Domestic Airline” in its first three years of flying – for 2008, 2009 and 2010;
- In June 2010, the airline expanded to its first international destination of Toronto, with a launch event that included California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and a mile high party en route to Toronto;
- In May 2010, Virgin America was named the “Most Eco-Friendly Airline” in the SmarterTravel Editors’ Choice Awards. At the same time, the airline announced that it had completed the LEED certification process for its Burlingame-based headquarters;
- In February 2010, the airline launched a new virginamerica.com site with greater functionality, speed and usability as well as new travel tools like “Express check-in”;
- The airline continues to expand its Elevate frequent flyer program, with a frequent flyer partnership with V Australia and Virgin Blue, improved Elevate member redemption (no points expiration), and added Elevate partners like Joie de Vivre and Morgans Hotel Group;
- The airline continues to expand its airline partnerships by signing interline agreements with El Al, Qatar Airways, South African Airways and VAustralia.
Other notable milestones:
- First airline to offer GoGo In-flight Internet fleetwide in May 2009, and to kick it off via a live SKYPE chat with Oprah Winfrey and her studio audience;
- Only U.S. airline with standard power outlets at every seat and seat-to-seat text chatting;
- Only airline in the U.S. with a touch-screen seatback menu that allows guests to order what they want, when they want it during a flight. The airline’s fresh, locally-focused menu was awarded the “Best Domestic Airline for Food” title by Travel + Leisure in 2009;
- First U.S. airline to offer carbon offsets in-flight and join the Climate Registry, a nonprofit organization that sets consistent standards to calculate, verify and report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions;
- Named “Best Domestic Airline” in the Conde Nast Traveler’s 2008 and 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards;
- Most fuel efficient fleet in the U.S. -- up to 25 percent more carbon/fuel efficient than other U.S. airlines;
- Only U.S. airline to give frequent flyers an opportunity to fly their way to a seat on a Virgin Galactic flight.
Virgin America offers over 100 flights a day and flies to: San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Toronto and starting on October 6, 2010 – Orlando.
EDITORS NOTE: Virgin America is a U.S. owned, controlled and operated airline. It is an entirely separate company from Virgin Atlantic. Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is a minority share investor in Virgin America.
About Virgin America: Headquartered in California and launched in August 2007, Virgin America currently employs over 1600 people. Virgin America offers guests attractive fares and a host of innovative features aimed at reinventing air travel. The airline’s base of operations is San Francisco International Airport’s International Terminal. The airline's new aircraft offer interactive in-flight entertainment systems and power outlets near every seat for electronic gear. Virgin America offers in-flight internet service on every flight and hosts the largest in-flight entertainment library in the North American skies via the touch-screen Red™ seatback platform. In addition to a 30-film library including foreign language films and Hollywood blockbusters, Red features live TV, videogames, seat-to-seat chat, 3,000 MP3s, music videos, interactive Google maps, the world’s first seatback digital Shop platform and more. In just three years flying, Virgin America was named “Best Domestic Airline” in the Conde Nast Traveler 2008 and 2009 Readers' Choice Awards and "Best Domestic Airline" in Travel + Leisure’s 2008, 2009 and 2010 World's Best Awards. For more: www.virginamerica.com
SOURCE Virgin America