Category Archives: Virgin America

Airbus delivers the first A321neo to Virgin America

Virgin America's first Airbus A321neo, delivered on April 20, 2017

Airbus has delivered the first-ever A321neo to Virgin America now owned by the Alaska Airlines Group. The pictured A321-253N N921VA (msn 7589) was delivered in full Virgin America colors.

The latest generation aircraft powered by CFM International’s LEAP-1A engines was handed over to the all-Airbus operator, at a ceremony in Hamburg, Germany.

Virgin America currently operates a fleet of 63 Airbus A320 family aircraft comprised of A319ceo and A320ceo aircraft powered by CFM’s CFM56-5B engines.

Has Alaska decided to retain the Virgin America brand?

Top Copyright Photo: Virgin America Airbus A321-253N WL N921VA (msn 7589) XFW (Gerd Beilfuss). Image: 937602.

Bottom Photo: Virgin America.

Virgin America aircraft slide show:

Virgin America's first Airbus A321neo, delivered on April 20, 2017

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Alaska to retire the Virgin America brand in 2019 but will adopt many brand elements

Virgin America Airbus A320-214 N844VA (msn 4851) SEA (Michael B. Ing). Image: 928791.

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America on March 22, 2017 shared their vision for the future of the combined carrier, as the company solidifies its status as the West Coast’s premier airline.

The group continued:

After careful consideration, the combined company will adopt Alaska’s name and logo, retiring the Virgin America name likely sometime in 2019. However, the combined airline will adopt many of the brand elements that Virgin America enthusiasts love about their favorite airline, including enhanced in-flight entertainment, mood lighting, music and the relentless desire to make flying a different experience for guests. The goal is to create a warm and welcoming West Coast-inspired vibe.

Alaska has been actively growing the airlines’ newly combined networks since closing the merger in December. Earlier this month, the airline announced 21 new markets with 25 new daily departures out of San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Jose, California – marking the largest addition of routes in the company’s history.

Alaska Airlines' "More to Love" merger livery

Above Copyright Photo: Alaska Airlines (Alaska + Virgin America) Boeing 737-990 ER SSWL N493AS (msn 41727) (More to Love) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 936924.

In addition to low fares, network growth and award-winning service, Alaska will spend the next few years making major enhancements to its already award-winning guest experience and incorporating favorite elements of the Virgin America experience.

Enhancements include:

  • Modern, warm and welcoming vibe – Guests will start to see some of the new Alaska brand personality come to life throughout 2017, to create a warm and welcoming West Coast vibe throughout the guest journey. Music from fresh new artists will be featured on planes, in airport lobbies and at gates. In 2018, Alaska will debut an entirely redesigned cabin with new seats and amenities, and has already started to retrofit select Boeing aircraft with expressive blue mood lighting. Modern, stylish uniforms by fashion designer Luly Yang will roll out in mid-2019 for flight attendants, customer service agents, pilots, mechanics and ground crew.
  • Satellite connectivity – Alaska’s entire fleet of Boeing 737 passenger aircraft will be equipped with high-speed satellite Wi-Fi beginning in fall 2018, with the remainder of the Airbus fleet to follow. Both fleets are expected to be fully satellite-equipped by the end of 2019.
  • More premium seats – Building on Alaska’s new First Class and Premium Class seating sections that debuted earlier this year, premium seating will be expanded across the Airbus fleet beginning in the fourth quarter of 2018. The number of First Class seats will increase by 50 percent (going from eight seats in the Airbus First Class cabin to 12) and are customized for enhanced comfort, featuring 41 inches of pitch, improved seatback storage pockets, cup holders, footrests and personal power outlets throughout the cabin. The redesigned Airbus cabins will also feature 18 new Premium Class seats with 35 inches of pitch and complimentary beer, wine and cocktails.
  • The country’s top-ranked frequent flier program – In 2018, Alaska Mileage Plan will become the sole loyalty program for both airlines, offering guests more rewards, an expansive global partner network and the only major airline loyalty program that still rewards a mile flown with a mile earned on Alaska and Virgin America flights. Members of Alaska Mileage Plan enjoy some of the most generous benefits in the industry including complimentary upgrades, award travel starting at 5,000 miles one-way (plus taxes and fees) and a faster path to elite status compared to other airlines. With Alaska and Alaska Global Partners, members can earn and redeem miles to more than 900 destinations worldwide.
  • Complimentary upgrades – With 50 percent more premium seats being introduced to the Airbus fleet, elite loyalty members will enjoy the most generous complimentary upgrades in the industry. Mileage Plan MVP Golds and above are upgraded to First Class or Premium Class 75 percent of the time (based on average historic system wide rates of upgrade) on Alaska Airlines flights. Complimentary upgrades on Airbus aircraft will debut for the first time ever in late 2018.
  • Free movies – In January, Alaska launched a temporary promotion offering its entire catalog of more than 200 movies and TV shows for free. Starting now, free entertainment on guests’ own devices will be a permanent feature on its Boeing fleet and the same free library of movies and TV shows will expand to Airbus aircraft via Red entertainment system in August 2017. Guests on Airbus aircraft will continue to enjoy access to early release movies for purchase.
  • Free Chat™ – In January 2017, Alaska became the first and only U.S. airline to offer Free Chat onboard and will expand Free Chat to Airbus-operated flights in August 2017. Guests can stay connected to friends and family on the ground via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and iMessage.
  • West Coast-inspired food and beverage – Alaska and Virgin America continue to enhance their fresh, healthy, West Coast-inspired onboard food and beverage menus. Guests of both airlines enjoy craft brews, premium wines and delicious food options. By June 2017, Alaska First Class passengers will be able to pre-select meals before they fly, and by early 2018, Alaska’s Main Cabin passengers will be able to pre-pay for their meals before they fly. Food pre-ordering will be extended to Airbus flights sometime in the future.
  • Lounge expansion – By early 2019, guests will be able to relax in refreshed and expanded airport lounges in Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles, as well as new lounges in San Francisco and at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The expansion plans will double the square footage of Alaska’s airport lounges. Members also currently enjoy access to more than 60 partner lounges throughout the United States and around the world.

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America along with their regional partners, fly 40 million customers a year to 118 destinations with an average of 1,200 daily flights across the United States and to Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica and Cuba.

Top Copyright Photo: Virgin America Airbus A320-214 N844VA (msn 4851) SEA (Michael B. Ing). Image: 928791 (all others by Alaska Airlines).

Alaska Airlines aircraft slide show:

Virgin America aircraft slide show:

Alaska Airlines announces 13 new nonstop routes from the Bay Area

Virgin America Airbus A320-214 WL N365VA (msn 7207) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 936380.

Alaska Airlines has made this announcement:

Three months after its acquisition of Virgin America, Alaska Airlines is growing its Bay Area footprint, adding 13 new nonstop markets from San Francisco International Airport and Mineta San Jose International Airport. The routes mark the single largest new market announcement in Alaska Airlines history. With the additional flights, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America will offer guests 125 daily nonstop flights to 42 destinations from the three major Bay Area airports.

 

The new flights build on previously announced Bay Area routes scheduled to begin in the coming months, which include San Jose-Newark, San Jose-Burbank, San Francisco-Orlando, San Francisco-Orange County, San Francisco-Minneapolis and San Francisco-Mexico City.

With these new routes being flown by Virgin America Airbus A320s, will they be rebranded as Alaska Airlines? Alaska Airlines has not yet made the branding decision.

Schedule of new daily service:

Top Copyright Photo: Virgin America Airbus A320-214 WL N365VA (msn 7207) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 936380.

Virgin America aircraft slide show:

Alaska Airlines unveils its “More to Love” special livery on N493AS

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Alaska Airlines today (December 14, 2016) unveiled at San Francisco (the home of Virgin America) a special Alaska Airlines + Virgin America “More to Love” livery on the pictured Boeing 737-990 ER 493AS (msn 41727). Here are the first photos from the unveiling ceremony.

Copyright Photos: Mark Durbin.

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Alaska Air Group announces the closing of the acquisition of Virgin America, no decision on the Virgin America brand

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Alaska Air Group Inc. on December 14, 2016 announced it has closed its acquisition of Virgin America. The definitive merger agreement, which was signed in April and approved by Virgin America shareholders in July, brings together two of the country’s favorite airlines into a unified force that will provide an attractive alternative to the “Big 4” airlines that currently control 84 percent of the domestic market.

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America will spend the next year working to secure Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification to allow the two airlines to operate as a single carrier (with regional sister carrier Horizon Air remaining on its own separate operating certificate).

Today, Alaska Air Group boasts nearly 1,200 daily flights to 118 destinations, the most seats on flights from the West Coast and more than $7 billion annual revenues. Alaska Air Group will continue to provide customers the low fares, unmatched reliability and award-winning service they’ve come to enjoy, while offering a convenient schedule of flights to even more of the places they want to fly. Soon Virgin America customers will have access to a route network that offers six times more daily flights than before.

The combination expands service and provides more frequent connections to international airline partners in thriving technology markets in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Seattle/Tacoma.

Together, the airlines offer 289 daily flights to 52 destinations from California, including 113 daily nonstop flights to 32 destinations from three Bay Area airports and 105 daily nonstop flights to 37 destinations from four Los Angeles area airports.

In addition, the combination opens up growth opportunities in important East Coast business markets by increasing Alaska Air Group’s access to high-demand airports like Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and the three primary New York City-area airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.

The company also announced new flights from its San Francisco hub to Orlando (daily), Minneapolis/St. Paul (twice daily) and Orange County, California (four times daily) beginning in the summer of 2017.

The combination expands service and provides more frequent connections to international airline partners in thriving technology markets in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Seattle. Together, the airlines offer 289 daily flights to 52 destinations from California, including 113 daily nonstop flights to 32 destinations from three Bay Area airports and 105 daily nonstop flights to 37 destinations from four Los Angeles area airports.

In addition, the combination opens up growth opportunities in important East Coast business markets by increasing Alaska Air Group’s access to high-demand airports like Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and the three primary New York City-area airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.

The company also announced new flights from its San Francisco hub to Orlando (daily), Minneapolis (twice daily) and Orange County, California (four times daily) beginning in the summer of 2017.

To celebrate the merger of two beloved West Coast airlines, Alaska leaders will join employees from Virgin America, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air on December 14, 2016 at San Francisco International Airport for the unveiling of a co-branded Boeing 737 featuring a special, one-time livery painted in shimmering red, purple and blue. The aircraft features the slogan “More to love” and will fly throughout Alaska Airlines’ route network starting the same day, in celebration of the increased customer benefits of the combination.

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China Southern Airlines and Virgin America to expand their codeshare agreement

China Southern Airlines Boeing 777-31B ER B-2029 (msn 43224) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 930493.

Virgin America (San Francisco) and China Southern Airlines (Guangzhou) have announced a codeshare agreement to offer seamless booking and travel between China, Southeast Asia and multiple Virgin America destinations across the United States.

Under the new agreement, China Southern will place its two-digit airline code (CZ) and flight numbers on a range of Virgin America routes operating from Los Angeles and San Francisco – including West Coast flights to and from Boston, Chicago, Dallas Love Field, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Newark, New York (JFK), Seattle, San Diego and Washington DC.

This partnership will bring expanded choice and convenience for travelers flying between China Southern’s numerous Chinese and Southeast Asia destinations and the United States. This agreement is unique in that China Southern is the only airline offering non-stop service between Guangzhou and Wuhan and the United States.

China Southern offers daily flights from Guangzhou to San Francisco (three flights per week with one stop in Wuhan), ten flights per week from Guangzhou to Los Angeles, and daily flights from Guangzhou to New York.

This new agreement builds and expands on China Southern’s existing interline arrangement with Virgin America. China Southern is Virgin America’s sixth codeshare agreement and joins the airline’s growing partner portfolio.

Top Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. China Southern’s Boeing 777-31B ER B-2029 (msn 43224) departs from Los Angeles.

Below Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. Virgin America’s Airbus A320-214 N855VA (msn 5179) prepares to land at Washington (Reagan National).

Virgin America Airbus A320-214 N855VA (msn 5179) DCA (Brian McDonough). Image: 930492.

Virgin America aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

China Southern aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

 

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Virgin America to lease 10 Airbus A321neo aircraft from GECAS

 

GECAS logo

GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), the commercial aircraft leasing and financing arm of GE, has announced it signed an agreement with Virgin America, Inc. (San Francisco), to lease 10 new Airbus A321neo aircraft powered by CFM’s LEAP-1A engines to expand the carrier’s fleet.

The first aircraft is scheduled for delivery in in the first quarter of 2017 and the remainder will deliver in 2017 and 2018. All 10 aircraft are part of GECAS’ existing orderbook with Airbus.

Virgin America A321neo (Airbus)(LR)

Image: Airbus.

The A321neo, featuring Airbus’ “Sharklets” and CFM’s LEAP-1A engines (above), delivers per seat fuel savings of up to 20 percent, and provide the best seat-mile costs of any single-aisle aircraft on the market.

Virgin America logo-1

Virgin America also made this announcement:

Virgin America has announced it has agreed to acquire 10 new state-of-the-art Airbus A321neo aircraft, which are up to 20 percent more fuel and carbon efficient than the airline’s current fleet and which will help further reduce operating unit costs and increase revenue opportunities. The 10 new A321neos (short for New Engine Option), which provide the best seat-mile costs of any single-aisle aircraft on the market, are slated for delivery beginning in the first quarter of 2017 continuing through the third quarter of 2018, and will be leased from GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS).

With this delivery schedule, Virgin America is expected to be among the first airlines globally to operate A321neo aircraft powered by CFM International LEAP-1A engines. The new neo engine option significantly reduces noise levels, with half the noise footprint compared to the ceo engine option[1]. The aircraft will come equipped with fuel-saving Sharklet wingtip devices, similar to the equipment on the airline’s most recent aircraft deliveries, which began service in fall 2015, and the aircraft promise nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions that are 50 percent below regulatory limits outlined by the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP). In addition, the aircraft promise to deliver up to 20 percent reduced fuel burn over current generation aircraft per seat, which is equivalent to cutting 5,000 tons of CO2 emissions per plane every year.

In addition to their environmental and sustainability benefits, the new A321neos will position Virgin America to take advantage of new revenue opportunities and further improve its unit costs. With its stretched fuselage and cabin innovations, the aircraft allows for more seating capacity without sacrificing the award-winning guest experience the airline has become known for over the past eight years. The aircraft will be configured for Virgin America to include 185 total seats, roughly 24 percent more seating capacity than the airline’s existing A320 aircraft. The A321neo has a similar configuration to – and will feature 95 percent airframe commonality with – other aircraft in the Airbus A320 Family, thereby ensuring a seamless fit into Virgin America’s existing fleet of A320s and A319s. By operating a single fleet type, Virgin America is able to avoid the costs and added operational complexity that come with maintaining different fleet types.

 

This announcement by Virgin America reinforces the airline’s commitment to sustainability and minimizing its carbon footprint by investing in the latest aircraft and engine technologies. Virgin America maintains a relatively young fleet that, even prior to the addition of these new, greener A321neos, is already 15 percent more fuel efficient than the U.S. industry average. Recently, Virgin America joined forces with NASA to test new software created by the space agency that will help reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions. The technology connects to existing cockpit systems and allows for easier, more automatic route optimization, which could eventually help Virgin America use up to 1.4 million fewer gallons of fuel every year. Virgin America was also the first U.S. airline to document its carbon footprint via the Climate Registry’s accepted standards.

Furthering its green credentials, in 2011, Virgin America opened its sleek and energy-efficient new home at San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 2 (T2). The Terminal achieved LEED® Gold-certification, and Virgin America’s T2 office spaces in 2012 achieved the highest possible LEED® Platinum-certification. Both the Gold and Platinum levels are the first such certifications for a major commercial airport in the U.S. The airline’s Burlingame, California Headquarters has a LEED®-certified Silver standard and has an Energy Star Rating of 87 out of 100.

Virgin America currently operates a fleet of 58 Airbus A320 Family aircraft comprised of A319 and A320 aircraft equipped with original “ceo” engine options. By mid-2016, Virgin America will have taken delivery of five additional A320ceos, bringing the total size of Virgin America’s fleet to 63 aircraft before the new A321neos begin to arrive in 2017.

 

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