Two Virgin America flights took-off from New York JFK and LA and were timed to land at their base at San Francisco simultaneously, 8 August.
The service launch of US start-up Virgin America followed a lengthy battle to convince regulators that Virgin America met rules on US citizenship requirements and control.
The inaugural flights from JFK and Los Angeles made a simultaneous landing at San Francisco, where both Airbus A320 family aircraft were greeted by arching spray from water cannons.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom welcomed guests from the flights, and lead a press conference with Virgin America CEO Fred Reid, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and airport director John Martin.
“We are so happy to celebrate our launch day with friends, supporters and our first guests,” says Reid in a statement. “We’ve worked very hard to get here, and we hope the American flying public will like what we have to offer.”
Virgin America will offer two daily flights between San Francisco and JFK, and five daily flights between San Francisco and Los Angeles. A third San Francisco-JFK flight will be added on 19 August and a fourth on 9 September.
On 29 August, Virgin America will initiate service between JFK and Los Angeles with two daily flights, adding a third on 16 September.
Twice-daily service between San Francisco and Washington Dulles will commence on 26 September; between San Francisco and Las Vegas on 10 October with three daily flights; and between Los Angeles and Dulles on 24 October with two daily flights. All flights are nonstop. However, connections are available beginning 10 October between Las Vegas and both New York and Dulles, notes Virgin America.
Virgin America had for years been seeking to launch US domestic services but faced strong opposition from those claiming its ownership structure did not meet US laws and concerns that Branson’s Virgin Group had undue influence.
Virgin America agreed to revise its funding and management structures. In May the new entrant secured final DOT approval to begin operations, with the stipulation that Reid steps down six months after certification.
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