SAN FRANCISCO, April 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Virgin America, the only California-based airline and the first domestic carrier to offer flyers the ability to offset the environmental impact of their flights while at 35,000 feet, will match all onboard donations made by guests today through April 30, 2016, via the airline's "Make a Difference" platform* on its seatback entertainment system. For every traveler who offsets the carbon footprint of their flight via the airline's Red in-flight entertainment platform, Virgin America will make a matching donation to the nation's leading nonprofit carbon offset provider: Carbonfund.org Foundation. Since 2008, Virgin America and its flyers have offset over 15 million pounds of carbon emissions – the airline annually offsets the carbon emissions associated with its headquarters' energy consumption and guests flying aboard the airline may purchase offsets via the Red touch-screen seatback entertainment platform. The airline also once again has teamed up with NatureBridge to support restoration projects focused on clean-up and preservation projects at sites including Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands near San Francisco and in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles.
"As a Virgin-branded company and the only California-based airline, it's in our DNA to make environmentally sustainable practices a priority across our Company," said Frances Fiorillo, Senior Vice President of People and InFlight at Virgin America. "California is known for its spectacular natural beauty and for being the birthplace of the environmental movement, so it is fitting that we do our part and provide opportunities to our teammates and flyers to help protect our planet's valuable natural resources."
Launched in 2007, Virgin America has built sustainable practices into its operations from day one. The airline operates one of the youngest fleets in the U.S. and with investment in new aircraft and engines, the latest navigational systems, and consistent use of best practices on the ground and in the air, its current fleet is up to 15% more fuel efficient than the U.S. industry average. Virgin America was the first domestic airline to list its carbon footprint according to internationally accepted standards on The Climate Registry – Virgin America established its baseline organization footprint in its first full year of operations, as a first step in ensuring its operations were transparent to guests and other interested parties.
"Our partnership with Virgin America means support for important and innovative projects in the fight against global warming," said Eric Carlson, President of Carbonfund.org. "Virgin America and its guests have offset over 15 million pounds of CO2 emissions which is equivalent to over 7 million pounds of coal burned. Virgin America provides guests with a meaningful way to get involved in the sustainability effort by making it easy and affordable to offset one's carbon footprint and support emission reductions."
The airline's home base at San Francisco International Airport's Terminal 2 (T2) is LEED® Gold-certified. With additional investments by the airline, Virgin America's own office spaces at T2 achieved the highest possible LEED® Platinum-certification. Virgin America was also the first airline to offer guests the opportunity to offset their emissions while in-flight. The proceeds from the carbon offset program have supported independently verified offset projects within California including The Hilarides Dairy Project in Lindsay, California that helps to reduce heat-trapping methane emissions which in turn, lessens the impact of global climate change and each year reduces approximately 18,500 metric tons of CO₂emissions. The project also encourages the development of new technologies, reduces local water pollution and provides an alternative source of income for local farmers. Since 2010, the airline has also offset its annual carbon footprint for its Burlingame, Calif. based headquarters through Carbonfund.org.
Virgin America expanded its partnership with NatureBridge this year to include volunteer and educational opportunities for Virgin America teammates in 2016 at NatureBridge campuses near San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Virgin America teammates' ongoing efforts at Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands – now in their third year – are helping to preserve the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is known for its tidal pools, wildflowers and unique rock formations, as well as a diverse array of wildlife. NatureBridge educators have guided the airline's teammates in their efforts to remove non-native, invasive plant species from the hillsides that slope down to the Pacific Ocean, allowing native plant species to flourish.
"NatureBridge is honored to advance our partnership with Virgin America, an airline distinguished for its commitment to the environment and sustainability," said Phillip Kilbridge, NatureBridge President and CEO. "With investment from critical partners like Virgin America, NatureBridge provides more students with hands-on environmental science and furthers our mission to increase environmental literacy for a more sustainable planet."
Virgin America's Earth Month efforts will once again stretch across the nation, with teammate participation in clean-up and restoration projects in each of the airline's destination cities. 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 Airbus A320-family aircraft that is up to 15 percent more CO2 efficient than the average U.S. fleet. In December, Virgin America announced plans to acquire ten new Airbus A321neo aircraft from 2017-2018, which is equivalent to cutting 5,000 tons of CO2 emissions per plane every year.
- Virgin America has implemented over 25 fuel savings initiatives reducing fuel use by 6.5%.
- In 2014, Virgin America became the first airline in North America certified to the Federal Aviation Administration to fly 0.1 Required Navigational Performance approaches, enhancing the efficiency of landings in reduced visibility and further minimizing fuel burn.
- Virgin America participates in LSG Sky Chefs' Zero Waste to Landfill (ZLF) program, which aims to divert available waste from landfills. 100 percent of kitchens serving Virgin America recycle materials, including three kitchens that provide biocomposting.
- In 2013, the airline took delivery of its first Airbus A320 family aircraft with Sharklets, wingtip devices with the potential to help the airline realize 4% additional fuel efficiency across the network.
- 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 made additional investments within its T2 spaces in 2012 to achieve the highest possible LEED® Platinum-certification. Both the Gold and Platinum levels are the first such certifications for a major commercial airport in the U.S.
Photos of Virgin America's unique aircraft and broadcast quality b-roll can be found at: https://www.virginamerica.com/cms/about-our-airline/photos.html.
About Virgin America: 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 the "Best U.S. Airline" in Condé Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards and "Best Domestic Airline" in Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards for the past eight consecutive years. 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
About CarbonFund.org Foundation: Carbonfund.org is the nation's leading nonprofit carbon reduction and climate solutions organization, making it easy and affordable for individuals, businesses and organizations to reduce their climate impact by supporting third-party validated renewable energy, energy efficiency and forestry projects. Carbonfund.org has over 750,000 individual supporters and works with over 2,000 business partners.
*Donation Match: Virgin America will match donations made to NatureBridge and Carbonfund.org via the airline's "Make a Difference" donation platform onboard its in-flight entertainment system, Red, from April 22, 2016 through April 30, 2016 up to $10,000.
SOURCE Virgin America