Virgin America’s Greening Efforts By David Pflieger

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.

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The World’s Most Environmentally Friendly Airline By David Pflieger

Recently declared the world’s most eco-friendly airline, Virgin America is continuously making efforts to reduce its carbon footprint while also encouraging passengers to join in. Virgin America is committed to company-wide change and has taken several steps to heighten its green initiatives, including introducing new eco-efficient aircrafts, buying office energy from renewable resources, and providing means for customers to purchase carbon offsets that reduce personal use of fossil fuels.

Not content to rest with their carbon neutrality efforts, Virgin America and the rest of the Virgin Group, founded by Sir Richard Branson, are actively seeking new ways to improve their environmental impact. In 2008, the company tested an aircraft that utilized biofuel harvested from coconuts. Currently, Virgin Atlantic, the European arm of the Virgin Air Group, is lobbying for continent-wide reduction of airplane emissions by creating a one-sky partnership between airlines. This effort is designed to cut down the number of European flights by trading open seats between different companies, ensuring that all seats are booked per flight and lowering travel redundancy and wasted fuel for partially filled planes.

About the Author: David Pflieger, former Senior Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs, General Counsel, at Virgin America and now CEO and Managing Director of Air Pacific, was instrumental in many aspects of Virgin America’s environmental initiatives, including providing the Climate Registry with the company’s greenhouse gas emissions statistics.

Air Pacific and the Mamanuca Environment Society of Fiji By David Pflieger

Air Pacific, soon to return to its original name of Fiji Airways, recently partnered with the Mamanuca Environment Society of Fiji to support the organization’s ongoing efforts to preserve the islands’ natural beauty. With an annual contribution of $20,000F, Air Pacific is dedicated to protecting the global environment and caring for its Fijian home.

The Mamanuca Environment Society is the largest environmental study and protection group in Fiji. Actively monitoring the conditions of flora and fauna on the islands and in the surrounding sea, the society takes responsibility for cleaning up environmentally hazardous conditions and safeguarding the well-being of endangered species. Additionally, the Mamanuca Environment Society is deeply committed to educating the public on environmental issues and showing how each individual can help protect Fiji. Members of the society regularly visit schools to discuss preservation with children and recently trained several local resort staffs on how to teach reef preservation and awareness to tourists, both to engage them in preservation efforts and to deter potentially harmful behavior.

About the Author: David Pflieger, Managing Director and CEO of Air Pacific, has actively worked toward environmental responsibility in the airline industry. During his tenure as Senior Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs, General Counsel, with Virgin America, David Pflieger was responsible for introducing numerous programs to increase the efficient and responsible use of natural resources.

Carbon Offsets

By David Pflieger

Virgin America, an offshoot of Virgin Atlantic, is the first airline in the United States to offer passengers the opportunity to offset the environmental impact of their travels. Through carbonfund.org, individuals and businesses can donate to projects that have been verified as reducing the carbon footprint of human activity through expansion of alternative energy sources, reforestation, and other efforts.

“Carbon Offsets” is an industry term that describes an exchange unit for carbon-dioxide emissions. While many manufacturing and transportation companies are assigned a limit to the amount of greenhouse gases they may emit, participating in and funding certain environmental projects can help them earn credits for emissions they produce over their maximum value. This ensures compliance by offsetting their overall impact. Many companies now purchase these credits as part of their normal operating costs.

Carbonfund.org, however, retires carbon offset credits purchased by donors. This retirement ensures that the credits will not be used to increase the volume of industrial-waste output. For passengers of Virgin America, connecting with carbonfund.org allows the environmentally conscious to work towards an overall goal of carbon neutrality by buying carbon offsets and balancing their personal pollution responsibilities.

About the Author: David Pflieger is Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Air Pacific and its subsidiary, Pacific Sun. With Air Pacific, David Pflieger continues to implement the green initiatives he helped found as part of Virgin America.