Virgin America set for growth, DOT lifts restrictions.

Virgin America set for growth, DOT lifts restrictions.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has lifted restrictions on the number of aircraft Virgin America (VX, San Francisco, CA) can operate after the airline successfully demonstrated it has “adequate financial resources to support additional expansion.”

Owing to the DOT’s policy of limiting start-up carriers’ fleets to twenty-two aircraft (extended to sixty-three aircraft in 2011) for the first five years of operations, Virgin America has had to seek DOT economic approval for each additional aircraft it wishes to add above the quota limit. The practice is intended to give start-up’s key management and technical personnel experience in overseeing scheduled passenger operations.

As such, in September 2015 the airline requested the DOT to remove the limitations citing its continued ability to operate safe and reliable aircraft and its continued financial health with assets exceeding liabilities by USD154.5 million as of last June.

Following a review of Virgin’s operations, the DOT subsequently removed the restrictions stating: “We conclude that Virgin America has the proper regard for the laws and regulations governing its operations to ensure that its aircraft and personnel conform to applicable safety standards and that acceptable consumer relations practices will be followed.”

Virgin America operates a fleet of ten A319-100s and fifty A320-200s with three more A320ceo due to arrive from Airbus Industrie (AIB, Toulouse Blagnac) this year. Ten A321neo are expected between 2017-18 along with thirty A320neo due between 2020-2022.


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