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Virgin America Triples Fleet Size With New Order

Virgin America orders 60 new Airbus A320s

Jan 17, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Virgin America today announces a firm order for 60 new Airbus A320 aircraft to be delivered starting in 2013, including 30 of the A320neo aircraft – the first commercial order for the new eco-efficient engine option. This formalizes and expands an initial commitment made at the Farnborough International Airshow in July 2010.

Today's announcement of the new fuel-saving A320neo is a new development in that deal. Virgin America is the launch customer for the new eco-efficient Airbus A320neo aircraft, which promises to be one of the most fuel and carbon-efficient commercial aircraft in the world. With today's order and growth from other sources, Virgin America's fleet will more than triple in size – from its current 34 aircraft to 111 aircraft by 2019. To celebrate its growth, the airline today launches a "Sweet 60" sale on flights across its network with fares from $60,* restrictions, taxes and fees applying.

The 30 current technology A320s are slated for delivery from 2013-2016. The neo option was launched in late 2010, and the 30 neo aircraft are slated for first delivery in early 2016. The A320neo will offer 15 percent gains in fuel efficiency, along with the accompanying improvements in carbon efficiency – including double digit reductions in NOx emissions. The A320neo offers reduced engine noise, lower operating costs and up to 500 nautical miles more range. Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and Virgin America President and CEO David Cush, today join Airbus CEO Tom Enders and Airbus COO Customers John Leahy, to make the announcement alongside one of the new aircraft during the Airbus annual press conference at Toulouse, France. Video of the event is available at:

"At just three years old and at a time when many carriers are contracting, we're pleased to be growing and bringing our award-winning service to new markets," said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. "We credit a great deal of our success to date to having the right aircraft. The low operating costs, cabin comfort and carbon-efficient design of our all new Airbus A320 Family fleet has helped fuel our growth and success in the North American market – and we're confident the A320neo will only build on that."

Since its 2007 launch, Virgin America has operated a new Airbus A320 Family fleet. Seating configuration on the new aircraft will remain the same as the carrier's current 146-149 seat A320s, which offer an international-grade First Class cabin and unique Main Cabin and Main Cabin Select services. As with all of Virgin America's fleet, the new aircraft will undergo modifications to offer the airline's signature mood-lit interiors, touch-screen entertainment and upscale design features. The upgraded neo aircraft will feature 95 percent airframe commonality with the original A320 Family, offering a seamless fit into the existing Virgin America fleet. Virgin America has not yet announced its engine choice on the order.

"We hit our 5,000th order in August of 2004 – after more than 30 years. To achieve the 10,000th order just over six years later is a ringing endorsement of our product line," said Tom Enders, Airbus President and CEO. "And to do so with Virgin America, one of our newest and trendiest customers, is very fitting. The fact that this milestone also embraces the first firm order for our new, eco-efficient A320neo is also very inspiring."

It is estimated that the A320neo's fuel efficiency will yield an average annual savings of $1.1 million per aircraft. The neo will employ wing tip devices called "Sharklets," which enhance the eco-efficiency and payload-range performance of the A320. The A320neo will emit 3,600 fewer tons of CO2 per aircraft on an annual basis.

"Virgin airlines are known around the world for innovation – for harnessing the best in design, technology and entertainment to reinvent the travel experience. We're just as committed to investing in the next generation solutions that will make air travel more sustainable," said Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson. "Climate change cannot be ignored by business, and I believe that we must rise to the challenge of combating it and find new and better ways of operating. The A320neo will help us get there, by lowering costs and reducing our impact on the environment. Virgin America's existing A320s are now up to 25 percent more fuel and carbon efficient than the average U.S. fleet, and the A320neo promises to improve on those numbers even more."

As the only California-based airline, Virgin America's investment in new aircraft and use of sustainable practices on the ground and in the air have helped make it one of the most carbon-efficient operations in the U.S. The airline has employed progressive practices since its launch, including single engine taxiing, utilizing advanced avionics to fly more efficiently and cost index flying. With the A320neo investment, a LEED-Silver certified headquarters and anticipated LEED-Gold Certification for its new SFO Terminal 2 home, the airline is committed to improving its carbon efficiency – even as it grows. Virgin America was the first carrier to list its carbon footprint according to globally-accepted standards via The Climate Registry and the first U.S. airline to offer guests the ability to offset their footprint in-flight. Virgin America is affiliated with the Virgin Group, which has committed to reinvesting all profits from Virgin's transport related businesses into renewable fuels research. The airline's annual Climate and Sustainability Reports include its emissions data and can be found on the carrier's Web site at:

Each new order for Airbus aircraft means a direct boost to the U.S. economy. Airbus spends some 40 percent of its procurement budget with hundreds of suppliers in more than 40 U.S. states. In 2009 alone, Airbus spent more than $10 billion in the U.S. – more than it spent in procurement in any other country. Using U.S. Department of Commerce figures, that dollar amount translates into Airbus support of 180,000 American jobs. The Airbus A320 Family, which includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321, is recognized as the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family. With proven reliability and extended servicing periods, the A320 Family has the lowest operating costs of any single aisle aircraft.

With low fares, outstanding service and inventive amenities, Virgin America has captured a loyal guest following and was named "Best Domestic Airline" in both Conde Nast Traveler's 2008, 2009 and 2010 Readers' Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure's 2008, 2009 and 2010 World's Best Awards. The airline recently reported its first quarterly net profit and is focused on growth, with 12 additional aircraft planned in 2011. The airline has five aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2012 and expects to look for additional aircraft for 2012, in order to bridge its growth to the new Airbus order in 2013. With expansion to Cancun this week, the airline will serve 14 destinations. Virgin America flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Toronto, Orlando, Dallas Fort-Worth, Los Cabos and as of January 19, 2011 – Cancun.

Virgin America orders 60 new Airbus A320s
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