Virgin America, the new U.S. start-up airline which plans to launch domestic air service early next year, pending government approval, will debut its first aircraft at San Francisco International Airport. The aircraft will be named Jefferson Airplane, in tribute to the legendary Bay Area rock band.
Jefferson Airplane epitomized the San Francisco scene of the mid-to-late Sixties, and in 1996 the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was their free spirit and connection to San Francisco that inspired Virgin America to name its first plane after their legacy.
The aircraft will be officially dedicated at a special ceremony culminating in a “champagne christening” led by Jefferson Airplane’s lead singer Grace Slick, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, and Virgin America Chief Executive Officer Fred Reid.
“When I ran for governor in the recall, I vowed to turn the economy around and help turn California back into a job creating machine. Since I took office, California has added more than 635,000 jobs,” said Gov. Schwarzenegger. “But I am always looking for more opportunities for California. I remember how excited I was when I heard that the Virgin brand was going to be expanding in America. What’s making me happiest of all is that Virgin America is choosing San Francisco as its hub. That means 1,700 new jobs in California and that is music to my ears.”
“San Francisco is so pleased that Virgin America will make our city its home base,” Mayor Newsom said. “With 1000 new local jobs each year, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of new visitors that will come to our city, this airline will be an important contributor to San Francisco’s future growth.”
“I went to Grammar School in San Francisco—and I’ve been arrested several times in San Francisco,” said Ms. Slick. “If it wasn’t for San Francisco, I wouldn’t be able to say all of the above. Virgin America—the only airline based in California: Git ‘er done!”
“As a big Jefferson Airplane fan, I’m thrilled we’re naming our first aircraft after the band. I grew up in San Francisco and spent a lot of time at the Fillmore at a lot of Jefferson Airplane concerts,” said Mr. Reid. “We are inspired by this city and by the band and are trying hard to take the spirit of the ‘60s to the air. Once the DOT grants us permission to fly, we plan to bring loads of music and caring onboard for our guests.”
Jefferson Airplane is the first of 34 Airbus A320 family aircraft the airline will put into service. Based at San Francisco International Airport, the airline plans to make its first flights to New York’s JFK.