An airline committed to corporate social responsibility, Virgin America maintains a strong commitment to nonprofits in and around its Northern California headquarters. They include Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C), which raises funds for interdisciplinary research into cancer treatments. SU2C’s fundraising work is notable in that it attempts to enable researchers to work collaboratively, thus minimizing the duplication of effort and moving the research cycle forward more quickly. In addition, it promotes higher-stakes research projects that could have a significant impact.
As part of its deep involvement in the Bay Area community, Virgin America supports San Francisco Animal Care and Control, which works to find homes for neglected and abused dogs and cats. Over the past six years, the airline has flown dozens of Chihuahua puppies from its San Francisco hub across the country and into the waiting arms of their new families.
Virgin’s other nonprofit partners include Make-A-Wish Greater Greater Bay Area, one of the largest chapters of the national group, which grants special wishes to children with terminal illnesses. Through Make-A-Wish, Virgin has hosted numerous children and their families as VIP guests aboard flights to their chosen destinations.
Virgin America made history in 2009 by becoming the first American airline to commit to reporting its greenhouse gas emissions. The California-based airline announced its decision to join the Climate Registry, a nonprofit organization dedicated to standardizing the accurate measurement and reporting of carbon emissions, joining a diverse group of environmentally conscious organizations that now total over 300. Overseen by a board of directors comprising a number of North American states and provinces, the Climate Registry collects greenhouse gas emissions data from its member organizations on a yearly basis, holding each to the same comprehensive and transparent reporting standards.
As the only airline based in California, Virgin America took a natural interest in weaving sustainable practices into the heart of its business operations, noted David Pflieger, then Virgin America’s senior vice president of legal, government affairs, and sustainability. Previously, Dave Pflieger guided Virgin America to become a pioneer of sustainability in October 2008, when the passenger airline became the first in its sector to take part in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Leaders initiative. Due to its more recent commitment to the Climate Registry, the airline bolstered its sustainability efforts by agreeing to provide more extensive emissions reports that reflect adherence to the registry’s heightened guidelines.
The strict monitoring and transparent reporting of greenhouse gas emissions is just one of many sustainable initiatives adopted by Virgin America, which has operated with a commitment to environmental sustainability since its inception in 2007. In addition to emissions-reducing innovations such as single engine taxing, cost index flying, and advanced avionics, the carrier introduced a new fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft boasting 25 percent more C02 efficiency than comparable fleets.
Dave Pflieger has held a number of executive roles in the aviation industry since 2002, most recently joining Island Air as the president and CEO as of September 2014. Shortly after his appointment, Dave Pflieger was instrumental in leading the company’s involvement in Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
This past October, Island Air joined the Susan G. Komen Hawaii affiliate in its efforts to provide screening and essential treatments for breast cancer. Island Air, which provides more than 250 weekly interisland flights between Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Lanai, sponsored flight fees for patients receiving treatment for breast cancer, incurring no cost to families or the nonprofit.
Up to 75 percent of the nonprofit’s income goes directly to supporting community education and treatment programs for medically underserved women, but the travel costs associated with flying to Oahu for repeated screenings and treatments represent a significant barrier to individuals in economically disadvantaged communities. By partnering with the charity, Island Air continues to lend its support to Hawaii locals in their fight against cancer.
The former chief executive officer at Air Pacific, Ltd., David “Dave” Pflieger led and managed operations for the airline, which is now known as Fiji Airways. Additionally, Dave Pflieger engaged in community relations and played a vital role in developing a partnership with the Foundation of Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development (FRIEND).
A non-government organization geared toward social and economic empowerment in Fiji’s underserved communities, FRIEND is based in Tuvu, Kings Road, Lautoka. Established in 2001, the organization celebrated the opening of its first office within the first 12 months of its existence. Several programs, such as the handmade card project that benefits youth who are hearing impaired and a food product line that raises funds for senior citizens, launched soon after FRIEND’s office opened.
Recognized by the World Health Organization and Dish Magazine, FRIEND has received numerous accolades since its inception. Among its national awards are the Frank Hilton Community Service Award and the Fiji Development Bank New Initiatives Small Business Awards, which noted the achievements of three FRIEND projects in 2006. FRIEND is also the recipient of international recognition, including listing in the United Nations’ UN-HABITAT Best Practices Database as a Good Practice, which signifies FRIEND’s success in implementing a food product program that alleviates poverty.