“Virgin airlines are known around the world for innovation – for harnessing the best in design, technology and entertainment to reinvent the travel experience. We’re just as committed to investing in the next-generation solutions that will make air travel more sustainable,” says Branson.
“Climate change cannot be ignored by business, and I believe that we must rise to the challenge of combating it and find new and better ways of operating. The A320neo will help us get there, by lowering costs and reducing our impact on the environment, adds Branson. “Virgin America’s existing A320s are now up to 25 per cent more fuel and carbon efficient than the average U.S. fleet, and the A320neo promises to improve on those numbers even more.”
As the only California-based airline, Virgin America says its investment in new aircraft and use of sustainable practices on the ground and in the air have helped make it one of the most carbon-efficient operations in the U.S. The airline says it has employed progressive practices since its launch, including single-engine taxiing, using advanced avionics to fly more efficiently and cost-index flying.
In cost-index flying, each flight operates at speeds and cruise altitudes calculated by the airline to produce the best overall match of cost-saving and revenue-generation potential in terms of the connection possibilities and overall scheduling allowed by the flight’s arrival time. The technique effectively compares the cost effects of flyer slower or faster with the revenue effects resulting from a later or earlier arrival and produces a flight profile that the airline calculates will create an optimal cost-and-revenue balance.
With the A320neo investment, a LEED-Silver certified headquarters and anticipated LEED-Gold Certification for its new SFO Terminal 2 home, the airline is committed to improving its carbon efficiency as it grows. Virgin America was the first carrier to list its carbon footprint according to globally accepted standards via The Climate Registry and the first U.S. airline to offer passengers the ability to offset their carbon footprints in-flight.
Virgin America is affiliated with the Virgin Group, which has committed to reinvesting all profits from Virgin’s transport-related businesses into renewable-fuels research. The airline’s annual Climate and Sustainability Reports include its emissions data and can be found at www.virginamerica.com.
Each new order for Airbus aircraft means a direct boost to the U.S. economy, according to Airbus. The manufacturer says it spends some 40 per cent of its procurement budget with hundreds of suppliers in more than 40 U.S. states. In 2009 alone, Airbus estimates it spent more than $10 billion in the U.S. – more than it spent in procurement in any other country. Using U.S. Department of Commerce figures, that dollar amount translates into Airbus support of 180,000 American jobs.
Virgin America recently reported its first quarterly net profit and is focused on growth, with 12 additional aircraft deliveries planned in 2011. The airline has five aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2012 and expects to look for additional aircraft for 2012, in order to bridge its growth to the new Airbus order in 2013.
With expansion to Cancun this week, the airline will serve 14 destinations. Virgin America flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Toronto, Orlando, Dallas Fort-Worth, Los Cabos and as of January 19 Cancun.
On January 17, the same day that Airbus announced the Virgin America order, the manufacturer revealed that in 2010 it increased its production output for the ninth year in a row and achieved a new company record of 510 commercial-aircraft deliveries to 94 customers (of which 19 were new).
The delivery total compared with 498 aircraft in 2009 and included 401 A320-family aircraft, 91 A330s and A340s and 18 A380s. In its military division, Airbus delivered 20 light and medium military and transport aircraft (CN235 and C295), exceeding its 2009 total by four aircraft.
Airbus says it booked 644 commercial aircraft orders in 2010 and 574 net orders, since orders for 70 aircraft were canceled during the year. The value of the new orders surpassed $84 billion gross ($74 billion net) at list prices, though customers rarely if ever pay list prices for commercial aircraft.
According to Airbus, its 2010 commercial-aircraft order total represents 51 per cent by units of the 2010 gross worldwide market share of aircraft beyond 100 seats, and 52 per cent net. Airbus won 21 new orders for military aircraft, CN235s and C295s.
The new commercial orders include 452 A320-family aircraft, 160 A330/A340/A350 XWB-family aircraft, and 32 new orders for the A380.
At 2010 year-end, Airbus’ commercial orderbook backlog was 3,552 aircraft valued at more than $480 billion at list prices, the backlog representing six years of full production. The company’s military backlog stood at 247 aircraft.