American Airlines and JetBlue Airways are opposing Virgin
America’s request to keep its traffic and financial data on the majority of its
The San Francisco-based startup requested US DOT keep performance information from
public release in the following markets: San Francisco
to Los Angeles, New York
City, Washington, DC
and Las Vegas; and flights from Los
Angeles to New York City and Washington,
Virgin America says it would like
information kept secret until the airline becomes a Group III carrier, defined
as having more than $1 billion in annual operating revenue.
American tells DOT that
confidentiality would be “highly unfair, prejudicial to other reporting
carriers and adverse to the public interest to withhold Virgin America's data
when the data submitted by all other carriers is released immediately. Timely
release of carrier data is the key to its usefulness”.
DOT requires carriers to file performance information, including revenue
passenger miles, available seat miles and passenger enplanements,
in public “Form 41” filings.
However, Virgin says public release
of detailed operational, traffic and financial data will cause the airline to
suffer “substantial competitive harm”, and would enable competitors “to
accurately calculate a variety of market-specific information, including cost
per available seat mile, yield, revenue per available seat mile and profit
Houston-based ExpressJet last year
made a similar request of DOT, asking for confidential treatment of its traffic
data for branded operations for April, May, June and July, reasoning disclosure
would damage its emerging operations.
notes in its filing, regulators denied ExpressJet’s request on more than one
occasion, siding with carriers including Alaska Airlines, JetBlue,
Northwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, which said the
airline was requesting an unfair advantage.
Virgin carried 383,000 passengers
through December 2007 after launching flights in August, says the US DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Flight’s ACAS database shows the carrier
currently flies a total of 16 Airbus narrowbodies –
four A319s and 12 A320s.