Headquartered in San Francisco SFO), Virgin America (VX) is the brainchild of Sir Richard Branson who wanted to create a stylish airline providing point to point long-haul service to major North American cities. It is classified as a low cost carrier with a more full service feel.
At A Glance
Virgin America started service on August 8, 2007 flying from San Francisco to New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX) using Airbus A320-200s. Its service commencement had ample material for a feature length movie. US ownership rules prohibits any airline from being more than 25% foreignly owned. The airline faced a lot of headwinds from the Air Line Pilots Association and Continental Airlines during its application process and had its application rejected initially by the US Department of Transportation in December 2006. Additional concessions were made to its Board of Directors, CEO and Richard Branson’s participation before its application for operation was finally approved in 2007.
When it was introduced in 2007, Virgin America had the youngest fleet in North America featuring some of the industry’s best products including:
- Audio Video on Demand with a 9″ touch screens for all passengers
- Mood lighting on all planes
- WiFi available on all planes
- USB and AC power ports available for all passengers
With the same Richard Branson cheeky attitude, Virgin America also featured some of the most interesting commercials and in flight safety video (like the one highlighted below):
Over the past 7 years, Virgin America has grown in size with 53 Airbus A320 family aircrafts serving 20 US and Mexican destinations.
It has not been a smooth ride when it comes to operations and financials. Fierce competitions in its hub in San Francisco with United Airlines caused this airline to lose money for the first 5 years. However, as noted below, Virgin America achieved its first full year net profit in 2013 owing to operation improvements, high load factors and lower fuel prices.