Virgin America has confirmed the appointment of thirty-year aviation industry veteran Steve Forte as its chief operating officer.
Forte will be the California-based airlines first ever COO, with oversight of flight operations, the operation control centre, aircraft maintenance, safety and guest services.
“We are extremely pleased to bring aboard someone with Steve’s impressive depth of operational experience,” said David Cush, president, Virgin America.
“He brings both a wealth of technical skills and a breadth of aviation management experience that will further strengthen the operating excellence of Virgin America.”
Forte spent most of his career at United Airlines, starting as a pilot, progressing through the ranks of flight operations management and ultimately serving as senior vice president, flight operations and director of operations, a position he held from 1999 to 2006.
As a senior executive at United Airlines, Forte played a critical role in leading the company through complex business events including United’s financial restructuring.
Since then, he has served as president and chief executive of two aviation software companies, including one (Naverus) that was acquired by GE Aviation.
He has accumulated more than 14,000 flight hours in dozens of aircraft types, and is qualified on the Airbus A320, the family of aircraft operated by Virgin America.