Virgin America announces 2010 fleet and route growth

Virgin America has revealed network expansion plans – including Canada for the first time – to position the airline for strong growth in 2010 and beyond.

From 19 August, the airline is to serve Orlando (MCO) with daily nonstop flights from both Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO). The airline has also announced its intent to serve Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ) with daily flights from both LAX and SFO as early as June 2010.

With its ownership structure once again approved by the US Department of Transportation, Virgin America is poised for major growth in the next 12 months, with six additional aircraft entering its fleet this year and three more scheduled to arrive in the first quarter of 2011, a total inrease of almost one-third over the current fleet.

“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,” declared 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 travellers in these and other new markets in 2010 and beyond.”

For the Toronto service to go ahead, Virgin America has to file an application with the US DOT seeking authority to fly from the United States to Canada. If approved, this would become the airline’s first international destination.

The airline is, however, ending service to John Wayne Airport (SNA) on 26 May 2010. All of Virgin America’s SNA staff will be guaranteed equivalent positions at the airline’s expanding LAX base or in other areas of its growing 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,” noted Cush.

In addition to Orlando and Toronto, Virgin America intends to announce at least three more new destinations in 2010. The airline continues to see growing sales, a maturing route network and financial growth. In its most recently reported quarter (3Q09), the airline reported its first quarterly operating profit, a year-over-year revenue increase of 38.3%, record load factors and improved unit costs.

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