Virgin America arrives in Dallas-Fort Worth; now operates from 11 US airports, Toronto; Mexico flights starting soon

Sir Richard Branson travelled to Dallas/Forth Worth to show Texans what his airline has to offer, now that it serves DFW twice daily. For full photo coverage of the celebrations, see this week’s new routes.

Sir Richard Branson travelled to Dallas/Forth Worth to show Texans what his airline has to offer, now that it serves DFW twice daily. For full photo coverage of the celebrations, see this week’s new routes.

Last week saw Virgin America begin flights to its 11th US destination; Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas. The US carrier which started operating in August 2007 celebrated the event with a BBQ on the arrival tarmac and a special Willie Nelson concert at the Dallas Opera House. Dallas-Fort Worth will be served by double-daily flights from both Los Angeles and San Francisco. The airline’s fleet currently stands at 28 aircraft, comprising a mix of 119-seat A319s and 149-seat A320s.

The airline’s latest financial results released last month reveal that although passenger numbers were down 3.6% to just under one million during the third quarter of 2010, scheduled capacity (as measured by ASKs – available seat kilometres) was up 10.1% as the average sector length was stretched 13% to 1592 miles (2547km). This can be explained in part by the dropping of San Francisco to Santa Ana (Orange County) services earlier this year (a distance of just 600 kilometres), and the start of Toronto services in June (around 3500 kilometres from California) and Orlando services in October (between 3500 and 4000 kilometres from California). The increase in sector length also helped push the average fare up by an impressive 33% to $185, enabling the airline to report an operating margin of 10.2% in the third quarter. The average load factor for the first nine months of the year is 80.8%.

Last week saw Virgin America begin flights to its 11th US destination; Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas. The US carrier which started operating in August 2007 celebrated the event with a BBQ on the arrival tarmac and a special Willie Nelson concert at the Dallas Opera House. Dallas-Fort Worth will be served by double-daily flights from both Los Angeles and San Francisco. The airline’s fleet currently stands at 28 aircraft, comprising a mix of 119-seat A319s and 149-seat A320s.

The airline’s latest financial results released last month reveal that although passenger numbers were down 3.6% to just under one million during the third quarter of 2010, scheduled capacity (as measured by ASKs – available seat kilometres) was up 10.1% as the average sector length was stretched 13% to 1592 miles (2547km). This can be explained in part by the dropping of San Francisco to Santa Ana (Orange County) services earlier this year (a distance of just 600 kilometres), and the start of Toronto services in June (around 3500 kilometres from California) and Orlando services in October (between 3500 and 4000 kilometres from California). The increase in sector length also helped push the average fare up by an impressive 33% to $185, enabling the airline to report an operating margin of 10.2% in the third quarter. The average load factor for the first nine months of the year is 80.8%.

San Francisco base 24% bigger than LAX base

San Francisco is the airline’s biggest base of operation as well as home of its corporate headquarters. Eleven destinations are now served from the airport with 224 weekly departures, compared with nine destinations and 181 weekly departures at Los Angeles.

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 6 December 2010

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 6 December 2010

United is the carrier’s biggest rival, operating in direct competition on all of Virgin America’s San Francisco routes except for Fort Lauderdale. In total eight other carriers compete on one or more of Virgin America’s San Francisco routes.

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 6 December 2010

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 6 December 2010

United is again the airline’s biggest threat from Los Angeles, competing head-to-head on seven of Virgin America’s nine routes. Again a total of eight carriers compete on one or more of the airline’s LAX routes, with Spirit Air replacing US Airways.

Next stop Mexico

Three more new routes have so far been announced that have yet to start. Los Cabos in Mexico will be served from San Francisco starting on 16 December, while January sees service begin to Cancun from both San Francisco and Los Angeles.


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