Virgin America Expands New York Service
When Alaska Airlines acquired Virgin America earlier this year, it was a surprise to the airline industry and led to speculation whether Alaska would keep the Virgin name and the brand as it stood.
It appears it will, especially with a new announcement of service expansion for Virgin.
California-based Virgin America, consistently rated as one of the more popular cross-country flying choices among passengers, announced last week it will expand service at Newark-Liberty International Airport in New Jersey (EWR) to a total of four daily nonstop flights to both Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) as of Nov. 18, 2016.
The new service comes as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved Virgin America's request to operate two additional daily flights to Newark.
It is yet another sign that Alaska Air intends to keep Virgin as its own entity.
Alaska Air CEO Brad Tilden said in June that he considered running Virgin America as a separate airline.
“We are looking at that because we do believe in the power of the Virgin America brand, and we don't want to lose all that loyalty and revenue that exists today,” he said.
In conjunction with the new service, Virgin America will also offer more scheduled flight times for travelers heading between New York City and the West Coast.
"Since our launch, we have been committed to increasing competition in the New York metropolitan area for travelers, with lower fares and service that allows them to stay connected, comfortable and productive coast-to-coast," Virgin America's Director of Network Planning, Adam Green, said in a statement. "We thank the Federal Aviation Administration for opening up this access, which will allow us to offer our guests even more choice when traveling from the East Coast with up to 25 flights departing the New York metropolitan area each day. Our transcontinental schedule is also focused on convenience – we have timed the flights so that guests don't have to travel too early in the morning or too late in the evening."
Virgin America has built a loyal following of bi-coastal flyers with its nonstop flights from the West Coast to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Newark and LaGuardia Airport (LGA), another reason why Tilden might have been reluctant to simply fold Virgin into Alaska, as other merged airlines have done.
Alaska is “taking a good look at running two brands for some period of time, perhaps forever,” Tilden said.
Virgin America's new EWR flights have been timed to complement the airline's transcontinental flight schedule to create as many convenient options as possible. The new schedule will see Virgin America operate ten flights per day from Los Angeles to the New York City area and nine flights per day from San Francisco.
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