Virgin America intends to launch flights from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to the Mexican destinations San Jose del Cabo (served by Los Cabos International Airport, IATA code SJD) in Baja California and Cancun International Airport (CUN), and from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Cancun.
The airline filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation on June 29 for authority to begin flying to Mexico this winter. The application came on the same day that Virgin America launched its first international service, to Toronto, from LAX through SFO to Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ).
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson onboard the LAX to SFO leg, and via Wi-Fi at 35,000 feet over the California coast, the pair announced the airline’s intent to serve Mexico.
Virgin America says that since its 2007 launch it has made sustainable practices a core part of its business model and during the period has created 1,600 new jobs and flown 8 million passengers.
The airline’s Toronto schedule includes one nonstop daily flight and one daily through flight in each direction between SFO and YYZ; and one nonstop daily flight and one daily through flight in eahc direction between LAX and YYZ.
“Today is a great day for airline competition, for our teammates and for travelers,” says David Cush, Virgin America president and CEO. “When more airlines compete, consumers win with lower fares and better service. At a time when most airlines are contracting and consumers expect less and less, we’re proud to be growing, operating responsibly and offering travelers a very different kind of flight experience.”
Virgin America says it is now poised for major growth, with the launch of five new destinations in 2010, a fleet growth of close to two-thirds projected by December 2011 and with plans to double its staff base by 2012.
The airline says it was the first U.S. airline to list its footprint via globally recognized standards and to offer customers the ability to offset their travel in-flight. Virgin America adds that its focus on sustainability has also helped streamline the airline’s costs. The airline remains a strong supporter of AB 32, California’s historic climate-change legislation.
“It is no surprise that the only airline headquartered in California is harnessing the best in technology and design to change how people fly. Virgin America has not only reinvented the in-flight experience, they are in step with California’s nation-leading green policies and are leading the way to reduce their carbon footprint,” says Governor Schwarzenegger. “Their growth reflects the entrepreneurial spirit of our state and again proves that sustainable practices can improve the bottom line and create jobs. I am thrilled to be a part of Virgin America’s first international flight and look forward to their continued expansion.”
Virgin America’s headquarters are LEED-certified and its new home at SFO’s Terminal Two will be LEED-certified as well. Virgin America operates one of the youngest fleets in North America and its mood-lit, custom-designed cabins feature the Red entertainment system, which Virgin America claims is the most advanced in-flight entertainment platform in U.S. skies. The Red system’s touch-screen offers 20 films, live TV, Google Maps, an MP3 library, video games, an on-demand menu that allows guests to order at their seat, and to select Carbonfund.org offsets. In 2009, the airline became the first U.S. carrier to offer WiFi fleet-wide.