Saturday, May 19, 2007

Virgin America Cleared for Take-off

Congrats to Virgin America - they received their final DOT ok on Friday. With Southwest (Service to San Francisco, CA begins August 26, 2007) and JetBlue (already flying from SFO) and now Virgin America coming to SFO -- it should be an interesting Fall. Will we see $59 ow to JFK?

From Virgin America --

Burlingame, Calif. (May 18, 2007) -- The Department of Transportation (DOT) today granted final approval for Virgin America, a new low fare U.S. airline, to begin operations.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be cleared for take-off and for the opportunity to serve San Francisco, the Bay Area, California, and the American public,” said Virgin America CEO Fred Reid. “I applaud the DOT for approving our application and fulfilling their long-standing commitment to competition and new choices for travelers.”

In its final order, the DOT found that the company fully complied with all requirements regarding fitness, U.S. citizenship requirements and control. The DOT also acknowledged that this final approval had been contingent upon the Company's acceptance of several additional conditions that were made public in March when the DOT tentatively approved Virgin America’s application.

One of these additional conditions included a requirement for Mr Reid to step down following launch. That condition will remain although he now will be permitted to stay on as CEO for six months following airline certification.

“This has been quite a journey but I’m truly happy that we will be able to launch our airline. I plan to spend every minute of my time between now and then supporting my 200-plus talented teammates in that endeavor,” said Mr Reid. “When I said that this was never about one person, I meant it. Virgin America has a wonderful team who will take this airline to great heights, bringing exciting innovation and competition.”

Now that the company has been formally approved, the next step will be to seek a waiver to start selling tickets. The company is planning a mid-summer launch.

Virgin America’s first flights will be between its home base of San Francisco (SFO) to New York (JFK). The airline also plans to serve Los Angeles (LAX), Washington/Dulles, San Diego and Las Vegas within its first year of operations.

The airline expects to serve as many as 10 cities within a year of operation and up to 30 cities within five years of service. Additional cities under Virgin America’s consideration include: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Nashville, Newark, New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Providence, Portland, Ore., Raleigh-Durham, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Jose, Calif., Sarasota, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

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