San Francisco-based airline Virgin America has received a number of accolades in its short history, including awards from Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure as the Best Domestic Airline for three years in a row. With a savvy business strategy that positioned Virgin America as one of the top carriers in the United States, the airline is also fully committed to exploring green initiatives.
In a 2010 ranking, Virgin America topped 10 other domestic carriers as the greenest airline in the United States. The criteria were based on use or development of alternative fuel options, recycling programs, green or sustainable food options, carbon offsets, and green building design.
That same year, Virgin America announced the company’s partnership with San Francisco International Airport for a new home at Terminal 2, which was awarded LEED gold-certified status. The airline leveraged sustainable design practices to achieve success at Terminal 2, which opened to rave reviews in 2011.
About the author: David Pflieger is a former executive with Virgin America and played a key role in launching the airline in 2006. Mr. Pflieger also had a hand in laying the groundwork for the company’s green initiatives.
Virgin America is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and running an environmentally sustainable business. In 2010 it was named the Most Eco-Friendly Airline by the SmarterTraveler Editors’ Choice Awards, and in the same year completed LEED certification for its Burlingame, California headquarters.
Virgin America takes a variety of steps to maintain its reputation as an environmentally friendly business. Their aircraft are 25 percent more fuel efficient than the average domestic fleet, a level maintained through consistent efforts such as advanced avionics that increase efficiency, single engine taxiing, and cost index flying, which is the practice of regulating cruising speeds in order to reduce the burning of fuel.
On the ground, the airline is an anchor tenant at San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 2. The terminal was built to improve indoor air quality and to reduce energy consumption, using new methods that succeeded in reducing greenhouse emissions by more than 1,500 tons per year. In addition to its sustainable practices, the Virgin Group reinvests its profits into researching alternative and sustainable fuels.
About the author: David Pflieger was among the team leading Virgin America’s efforts to become a US airline.
Sustainability and environmental responsibility is important to Virgin America. This past Earth Day, the airline partnered with the California State Parks Foundation for the fifth year in a row to support environmental clean-up and restoration projects across the Golden State. Virgin America employees helped to plant trees and restore landscaping in their effort to preserve the parks.
The airline’s environmental efforts weren’t limited to the month of April or just their home state. Virgin America, the only airline headquartered in California, also put effort into restoration projects in Seattle, New York, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, and many more parks across the United States. Virgin America maintains groups of Green Teams, which strive to find avenues to reduce the company’s environmental footprint, and it is volunteers from these teams and other departments who are working to clean up the nation’s parks.
About the Author:
A former Senior Vice President at Virgin America, David Pflieger led the airline’s effort to become a US airline during its certification process.
Since beginning operations in 2007, the California-based airline Virgin America has worked to make environmental sustainability an everyday part of business operations. The airline uses profits to finance renewable fuel research, and engages in numerous practices to reduce its environmental impact. These include policies such as single engine taxiing, idle reverse landings, reducing the use of auxiliary power units, and using electronic flight bags to minimize impact on the environment.
In addition, the airline carrier operates a fleet of Airbus A320 planes that have the capacity to be 25 percent more efficient in terms of CO2 emissions than average airplanes in the United States. Virgin America will also be launching a line of the A320neo aircraft next year, which are expected to be much more fuel efficient.
Eager to involve customers in environmental efforts to offset their carbon footprint, Virgin America was the first domestic airline to provide the option of making a donation to the non-profit organization Carbonfund.org directly from the plane via touch screens.
About the author: A former executive with Virgin America, David Pflieger was a leader in the airline’s effort to become a United States Airline.