Virgin America was launched in 2007 with the clear mission of delivering an innovative proposition in an industry long dominated by large legacy airlines, characterised by an ageing fleet of planes, poor on-time performance standards, and an uninspiring cabin product and customer service.
Since launch, San Francisco-based Virgin America has successfully established a significant presence in the US domestic market around key focus cities including: Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, New York, Washington, Seattle and Boston. Virgin America’s hybrid model aims to combine key features of low cost operators (i.e.: young and single-type fleet, point-to-point network, lean organisation) with the revenue generating capabilities of full service airlines (i.e.: first class cabin, loyalty program, corporate selling focus) and the unparalleled “Virgin” customer service.
The Virgin America experience has truly reinvented air travel by incorporating innovative features such as mood-lit cabins, fleetwide WiFi, custom-designed leather seats, power outlets, and a video touch-screen at every seatback offering guests on-demand menus and countless entertainment options such as Netflix and Spotify.
The company consistently captured a host of travel industry best-in-class awards, including “Best Domestic Airline” in both Condé Nast Traveller’s Reader’s Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards.
Virgin America extended its innovative approach to energy efficiency, with initiatives including the opening in 2011 of their LEED® Platinum-certificated new home at San Francisco International Airport. Their fleet has long been significantly more fuel efficient than the average for US domestic carriers.
During its early years of operation, the airline received key operational and financial support from US blue-chip investors and the Virgin Group. On the back of a solid trajectory of growth and profitability, Virgin America was listed in November 2014 on the NASDAQ at a market capitalisation of US$1.2bn, positioning the company for its next stage of growth whilst allowing for a partial exit for its initial investors.
As of December 31st, 2016, Virgin America operated a low-cost fleet of 57 A320s, flying 7 million passengers to over 20 destinations in the US and Mexico each year.
On April 4th 2016, Alaska Air Group announced the acquisition of Virgin America for $57 per share for an approximate $4bn aggregate transaction value. The deal completed in December 2016. On March 22nd 2017 Alaska Air Group announced its plans to retire the Virgin America brand.