The U.S. Department of Transportation having decided that Virgin America’s ownership is indeed sufficiently American for it to continue flying, the carrier is building on its confirmed operational status by embarking on a sizable expansion of its fleet this year and next and moving to strengthen its network.
Virgin America expects six additional Airbus A320-family aircraft to enter its fleet this year and three more in the first quarter of 2011. By this time next year, the airline’s fleet will have grown by almost one-third, according to Virgin America.
In a key route move, Virgin America is launching daily non-stop services to Orlando International Airport (MCO) from both Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on August 19.
Additionally, Virgin America intends to begin serving Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) with daily flights from both LAX and SFO as early as June 2010, assuming it obtains the necessary approval from the U.S. and Canadian governments under the terms of the Open Skies agreement governing air services between the two countries.
Virgin America applied to the DOT on March 18 for authority to serve Canada from the U.S. and is initially planning to serve Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) from both LAX and SFO, with one daily non-stop and one daily through-flight from each destination.
“With strong financial performance, a new ownership structure and growth in fleet size, we’re pleased to be able to expand to world-class destinations like Orlando and Toronto this year,” says Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. “Both cities are major travel destinations from the West Coast, and we’re looking forward to introducing our service to travelers in these and other new markets in 2010 and beyond.”
In addition to Orlando and Toronto, Virgin America says it intends to announce at least three more new destinations in 2010 and that it continues to see growing sales, a maturing route network and financial growth. For Virgin America’s most recently reported quarter (the third quarter of 2009), the airline reported its first quarterly operating profit, a year-over-year revenue increase of 38.3 percent, record load factors and improved unit costs.
However, as part of its network strengthening, Virgin America has decided end service to John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA) in California after May 26, 2010. Virgin America says that, given its new fleet plan, the move will allow it to launch service immediately into the more lucrative Orlando and Toronto long-haul markets. The airline says it will guarantee all of its SNA staff equivalent positions at the airline’s expanding LAX base or in other areas of its operation.
“Despite our relatively strong performance at SNA, given our new fleet plan and network prospects, we’ve made the decision to focus on the immediate long-haul opportunities that the Orlando and Toronto markets provide. We thank the SNA airport leadership and community for supporting us – and our teammates for their dedication,” says Cush.
Virgin America’s LAX-MCO fares start at $149 and SFO-MCO fares start at $199 one way in Main Cabin, not including taxes and airline and government fees, and tickets can be purchased via www.virginamerica.com and at 1.877.FLY.VIRGIN (1.877.359.8474). Any customer calling within the United States has access to a complimentary telecommunication relay service by dialing 711.