"As both a Virgin-branded company and the country's only California-based airline, it's in our DNA to make environmentally sustainable practices a priority," said Frances Fiorillo, Senior Vice President of People and InFlight at Virgin America. "California is known the world over for its spectacular natural beauty and for being the birthplace of the environmental movement, so it is only fitting that we do our part and provide opportunities to our teammates and flyers to help protect our state's most beautiful and scenic natural resources."
"Our partnership with Virgin America means support for important and innovative projects in the fight against global warming," saidEric Carlson, President of Carbonfund.org. "We value our long-standing partnership with Virgin America, an airline that has been committed to sustainability practices since day one. Providing travelers a way to get involved in the sustainability effort, by offsetting their flight emissions fits well with our goal of making it easy and affordable to offset one's carbon footprint and support emissions reductions."
Launched in 2007 and headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, Virgin America has built sustainable practices into its operations from day one. The airline operates one of the youngest fleets in the U.S. and with investment in new aircraft and engines, the latest navigational systems, and consistent use of best practices on the ground and in the air, its fleet is up to 20% more fuel efficient than the U.S. industry average. The airline's home base at San Francisco International Airport's Terminal 2 (T2) is LEED® Gold-certified. With additional investments from the airline, Virgin America's own office spaces within T2 achieved the highest possible LEED® Platinum-certification. Virgin America was also the first airline to offer guests the opportunity to offset their emissions while in-flight. The proceeds from the carbon offset program have supported independently verified offset projects within California including The Hilarides Dairy Project in Lindsay, California that helps to reduce heat-trapping methane emissions which in turn, lessens the impact of global climate change and each year reduces approximately 18,500 metric tons of CO₂ emissions. The project also encourages the development of new technologies, reduces local water pollution and also provides an alternative source of income for local farmers. Since 2010, the airline has also offset its annual carbon footprint for its Burlingame, Calif. based headquarters through Carbonfund.org.
Virgin America has also expanded its partnership with NatureBridge this year to include a $30,000 cash and in-kind donation as well as participation in restoration efforts for teammate volunteers in Los Angeles and San Francisco on Coastal Cleanup Day later this year. Virgin America teammates' efforts at Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands will help to preserve the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is known for its tide pools, wildflowers and unique rock formations. NatureBridge educators will lead the airline's teammates this weekend as they help to improve the coastline by removing non-native, invasive plant species along the beach.
"We are so pleased to continue and expand our partnership with Virgin America, an airline that has demonstrated its commitment to the environment and sustainability," said Jason Morris, NatureBridge Interim President and CEO. "Together, NatureBridge and Virgin America are addressing the urgent need to provide the next generation with a hands-on environmental science education. Partnerships like this are key to our ability to achieve our mission to foster environmental literacy for a more sustainable planet."
Virgin America's Earth Day efforts will once again stretch across the nation, with teammate participation in clean-up and restoration projects in each of the airline's destination cities. Virgin America teammates are supporting clean-up efforts in locations including Long Beach, the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C., Independence Park in Newark, Columbus Park in New York, Secret Woods Nature Center in Fort Lauderdale, Desert Bloom Park in Las Vegas, Collins Beach in Portland, Ocean Beach in San Diego and Des Moines Beach Park in Seattle. Volunteers include members of Virgin America's Green Team – a teammate-led group focused on finding innovative ways across the airline's operations to reduce the company's footprint.
Since its 2007 launch, Virgin America has made environmentally sustainable practices part of its training and operations:
- The carrier operates a fleet of 53 new Airbus A320-family aircraft that is up to 20 percent more CO2 efficient than the average U.S. fleet.
- The airline employs environmentally friendly practices, such as minimizing use of auxiliary power units, single-engine taxiing, electronic flight bags, idle reverse landings, utilizing advanced avionics to fly more efficiently and cost index flying – the practice of regulating speed to reduce fuel burn.
- In 2014, Virgin America became the first airline in North America certified to the Federal Aviation Administration to fly 0.1 Required Navigational Performance approaches, enhancing the efficiency of landings in reduced visibility and further minimizing fuel burn.
- Virgin America participates in LSG Sky Chefs' Zero Waste to Landfill (ZLF) program, which aims to divert available waste from landfills. 100 percent of kitchens serving Virgin America recycle materials, including three kitchens which provide biocomposting, with more to come.
- In 2013 the airline took deliverey of its first Airbus A320 family aircraft with sharklets, wingtip devices with the potential to help the airline realize to 4% additional fuel efficiency across the network. Future deliveries in 2015 and 2016 will also be equipped with the fuel-efficient sharklets.
- In 2011, the airline became the anchor tenant at San Francisco International Airport's beautiful and sustainable Terminal 2 (T2) – the first major LEED® Gold-certified airport terminal in the U.S. Virgin America made additional investments within its T2 spaces in 2012 to achieve the highest possible LEED® Platinum-certification. Both the Gold and Platinum levels are the first such certifications for a major commercial airport in the U.S.