Virgin America Cleared For Takeoff

The Department of Transportation has dropped its objections to Richard Branson’s latest venture, Virgin America. The domestic version of Virgin Atlantic was blocked in December over concerns the airline was a tad too British. Federal law requires U.S. ownership and control of domestic airlines. Branson won approval by yielding the CEO slot to an American, former Delta executive Fred Reid, and diluting Virgin Atlantic’s presence on the board.

Virgin America, based in Burlingame, Calif., near San Francisco’s airport, said yesterday that it was pleased by the ruling and hoped to start flights between San Francisco and Kennedy International Airport in New York by midsummer. Within nine months of beginning flights, it said it planned to serve Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Washington.

Finally, competition between New York and San Francisco. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

An American Version of Virgin Atlantic Is Tentatively Approved for Service [NYT]

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  1. BillyShears says:

    Run by a former Delta executive? Oh boy. Branson better keep a VERY short leash on the guy, lest this becomes Song 2.0.

  2. facted says:

    @BillyShears: I agree that anything related to Delta makes me cringe, although Song was actually a pretty good airline in my opinion. The problem was they tried the JetBlue model and combined that with Delta costs (Jetblue pilots aren’t unionized, for instance, while Delta’s are). This didn’t make for a good combination, although I don’t think Delta ever released Song’s performance separate from Delta’s as a whole. In fact, I was under the assumption that Delta got rid of song because they basically wanted to turn the whole airline into a Song-like airline, but I may be wrong.

  3. WindowSeat says:

    Maybe we can interest Sir Richard in Amtrak now?

  4. skittlbrau says:

    Huzzah!

    I think the best flight I ever took was ORD to LHR – I just hope the domestic flights are up to snuff.

  5. Omni Consumer Products says:

    re: Facted’s comment…
    I never understood why JetBlue was considered a low-cost carrier. Sure, their pricing structure is a bit simpler than the majors and I don’t believe they have first class, but besides that? I’m pretty thorough and often check 10 different sites before buying an airplane ticket, but I’ve never flown JetBlue simply due to the fact that they’ve never had the cheapest economy fare I could find. Surprisingly, I’ve always found better prices with the AA/Delta/United/Continentals of the world. And this includes routes that JetBlue is very competitive in, like NY-SoCal. Despite JetBlue’s recent PR debacles, it seems as though their hip, low-cost image and (usually) commendable customer service has shrouded the fact that it’s no cheaper than any other airline. That being said, we do have Jet Blue and Southwest to thank for these low costs on the old mainstays.

  6. Her Grace says:

    This brings me incredible joy. The girlfriend has CP, and is a prime candidate for deep vein thrombosis–the thing where you get blood clots in your legs from sitting too long on airplanes. We’re flying from Melbourne to the US next January and want to take Virgin because of their larger seats (easier to move around in and, you know, keep her legs), unlike the United flight I took out here where I was lucky I even had elbows at the end. Right now, though, we’d have to fly Melbourne to Singapore to London to NYC to North Carolina, which is a little ridiculous. If they open up for real in San Fran, we can hopefully do Melbourne to San Fran to home.

  7. facted says:

    @: I actually agree with you. What I mean by “low-cost” I guess is that their airline structure is aiming at reducing costs and achieving the lowest Cost per Seat Mile in the industry. Their employees aren’t unionized, they use new planes that require less maintenance, etc…

    I’ve been flying JetBlue since it’s inception, and it actually used to be the cheapest airline by far. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you see it), other carriers have lowered their prices to compete while JetBlue has focused on getting the highest fare possible from customers and is no longer really a “low-cost” carrier. If it’s close in price, though, JetBlue has a lot more to offer than most other airlines and I always prefer a JetBlue flight.

  8. orielbean says:

    I love using Virgin Atlantic every time I fly over to Europe. Hopefully they keep the excellent staff and comfortable accomodations for the domestic service. They are awesome. Who knows, though, could just be a brand transfer and not much else.