American regulators have thrown out an application by Virgin America to begin operations unless its ownership structure becomes more American.
The Department of Transportation has said that Virgin America did not meet the requirement that 75% of the voting interest of an airline be owned or controlled by US citizens.
Virgin America disagrees with the decision and said it will respond on 10 January. ‘We remain committed to getting our wings,’ it told the Evening Standard newspaper.
The airline is facing stiff opposition from embattled US carriers, who say Branson’s Virgin Group effectively controls the airline.
Virgin America has 33 Airbus planes on order and had planned to start operations with two to four aircraft flying a San Francisco-New York route.
Virgin America statement regarding DOT show cause order
“The Department of Transportation’s Show Cause Order is a long awaited step in our certification process,” said Virgin America spokesman Gareth Edmondson-Jones.
“While we disagree with this tentative Order, we respect the Department’s decision and intend to use the Order as a roadmap to address the issues raised and to demonstrate to the DOT that Virgin America will meet all ownership and control requirements.
“Accordingly, we plan to respond to the Department as requested on January 10 so that we may move forward with DOT certification, launch our airline, and bring new high-quality service and much-needed competition to the marketplace. We remain committed to getting our wings.”