Virgin America has confirmed an aggressive repositioning plan, which will see the North American airline offer departure to Canada for the first time.
In what is being seen as a direct challenge to Air Canada, the airline said it would serve Toronto Pearson International Airport with daily flights from Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) from as early as June 2010.
In addition, the airline intends to serve Orlando International Airport with daily non-stop flights from both LAX and SFO from August 19th, 2010.
Coming on the heels of the Company’s new Department of Transportation-approved ownership structure, Virgin America is poised for major growth in 2010.
The airline will see six additional aircraft enter its fleet this year, with three additional aircraft scheduled for the first quarter of 2011.
By quarter one of 2011 the airline’s fleet will have grown by almost one-third.
“With strong financial performance, a new ownership structure and growth in fleet size, we’re pleased to be able to expand to world-class destinations like Orlando and Toronto this year,” explained Virgin America president David Cush.
“Both cities are major travel destinations from the West Coast, and we’re looking forward to introducing our service to travellers in these and other new markets in 2010 and beyond.”
The move is being seen as a challenge to incumbent Air Canada.
The Canadian flag-carrier saw competition intensify on two fronts yesterday, with Porter Airlines also beefing up its presence in the coveted and highly-competitive Eastern Triangle between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
While the news will almost certainly be a boon for consumers by dragging down prices, it will likely be a thorn in the side of Canada’s largest carrier.
Virgin America will now file an application with the US Department of Transportation seeking authority to fly from the United States to Canada.
If approved, this would become the airline’s first international destination.
Winds of the Wasteland
The airline has also announced that it will end service to John Wayne Airport, from May 26th.
Given Virgin America’s new fleet plan, the move will allow the airline to immediately launch service into the more lucrative Orlando and Toronto long-haul markets.
“Despite our relatively strong performance at SNA, given our new fleet plan and network prospects, we’ve made the decision to focus on the immediate long-haul opportunities that the Orlando and Toronto markets provide,” added Mr Cush.