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Virgin America Unveils its Next Generation New SFO Home

07.04.11

Virgin America Unveils its Next Generation New SFO Home

Virgin Galactic Joins them to Toast to the Evolution of Flight

San Francisco’s Airline Unveils Beautiful and Sustainable New Terminal 2 Home and Celebrates with a “Fly into the Future” Fare Sale Virgin America’s First Arriving Terminal 2 Flight to Fly and Land alongside Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo and Space.

Virgin America unveils its beautiful and sustainable new home at San Francisco International Airport’s (SFO) Terminal 2 (T2) today with a series of inaugural flights that celebrate the evolution of travel. As the only California-based airline, Virgin America is an anchor tenant at SFO’s new T2, which offers a unique design that echoes the airline’s own focus on reinventing the typical domestic flying experience. Much like the airline that will call it home, the new T2 elevates the travel experience by offering the best in design, technology, food and sustainable practices. With over a half century of history, the 640,000-square foot T2 has been completely reinvented for the modern traveler by architecture and interior firm Gensler and aims to be the first LEED® Gold-certified airport terminal in the U.S. Virgin America’s additional investments in sustainable design for its T2 spaces and “Virgin Village” crew lounge are aimed at the highest possible LEED® Platinum-certified status. To unveil its sleek and sustainable new home and celebrate the evolution of flight, Virgin America today teams up with sister company Virgin Galactic to welcome two historic first flights to T2 – in support of a good cause. Today, the airline also launches a “Fly into the Future” fare sale on flights across its growing network.

“As a new airline we’ve been able to use the latest in technology, design and sustainable practices to enhance the traveler experience, and we hope elevate the journey beyond just getting from Point A to Point B,” said David Cush, President and Chief Executive Officer of Virgin America. “We’re proud to unveil a new home that similarly reinvents the travel experience for the modern flyer – and that also reflects the innovative, forward-looking spirit of our San Francisco home.”

Virgin America is the only California-based airline and its decision to headquarter in the Bay Area has helped make SFO one of the nation’s few growing airports. As of April 14, 2011, Virgin America will occupy seven gates at the new T2; American Airlines will occupy six; and there will be one common-use gate. With outstanding service, custom-designed cabins and high-tech amenities, Virgin America has been winning over consumers and travel awards since its August 2007 launch – including capturing the “Best Domestic Airline” title in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards for the past three years. Virgin America has created 1,900 jobs and welcomed more than 11 million guests since its launch. The airline continues to fuel significant expansion, with its employee base projected to grow by 500 additional teammates a year and its fleet projected to triple in size by 2019.

Known for its inventive design and sustainable best practices, Virgin America informed the T2 design process from its earliest stages. T2 offers features that mirror Virgin America’s own unique flight service, including a “Recompose” lounge that acts as a soothing oasis for flyers post-security, beautiful living-room like gate areas, the best in local and organic dining, elevated laptop work tables with outlets and WiFi and the airline’s distinctive cabin “moodlighting” featured at its T2 ticket counters and gates.

“Virgin is known around the world for product innovation that improves the customer experience. I am proud to see Virgin America grow into a new home that allows them to extend that unique Virgin experience from the aircraft to the airport,” said Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson. “Thanks to the vision of SFO and Gensler, T2 represents the evolution of the airport guest experience and serves as a model for sustainable design. Just as Virgin America now has guests who say ‘I wish my flight was longer,’ T2 is a place travelers will actually enjoy visiting and spending time in.”

Guests onboard Virgin America’s Airbus A320 “My Other Ride is a Spaceship” will make aviation history today as both the first arriving T2 travelers and the first to fly and land alongside Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo as they make their inaugural landing at an international airport. Flight guests, including Sir Richard Branson and space pioneer Buzz Aldrin, will get a bird’s eye view of the future of flight as they meet up with the world’s first commercial spaceline over the California coast and proceed to touch down on parallel runways at SFO. Guests include supporters of “Galactic Unite,” a Virgin Unite (Virgin Group’s nonprofit foundation) initiative that aims to inspire students to seek answers to global challenges through science, engineering, math and business entrepreneurship education. Virgin pilots and engineers serve as mentors in the program, which is initially aimed at K-12 youth in New Mexico and California. Participating students from KIPP Bay Area and KIPP Academy of Hope in LA as well as participants in the Student Launch program in New Mexico join today’s events. For more: www.virginunite.com

“Virgin America has the most advanced and carbon-efficient commercial fleet in the U.S. and when it touches down today at its new home it will share the runway with the future of commercial aerospace – SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo,” said George Whitesides, President and Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic. “We’re proud that two Virgin-branded companies can link the cutting-edge present to the future of commercial aviation. It is also fitting that today’s flights are helping to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and aviators.”
Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) represents a giant leap forward in aerospace design and will enable safe and commercially-viable access to space for private individuals and academic researchers. The world’s largest all carbon composite aviation vehicle and the most fuel efficient aircraft of its size, WK2 can perform high and zero g maneuvers and possesses the high-altitude heavy-lift capability to air-release the world’s first commercial manned spaceship – SpaceShipTwo – on its journey into sub-orbital space. SpaceShipTwo is a rocket-powered space plane, which is intended to air-launch via a groundbreaking feather re-entry system. For more on the future of commercial space travel and the spaceships: www.virgingalactic.com/overview/spaceships

“Today, San Francisco unveils the most innovative, environmentally sustainable domestic airport in the country. T2 is an economic engine that has created and will continue to create jobs and bolster our State’s economy while being a responsible environmental steward of our natural resources,” said Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. “It is fitting that Virgin America – the only California-based airline and one known for its inventive design and fuel-efficient fleet, will help unveil the new T2. Since its launch, Virgin America has created thousands of jobs, lowered fares and has helped spur SFO’s growth.” Lieutenant Governor Newsom joined Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson onboard the first Virgin America flight to T2 today.

Upon landing, T2’s first flight guests will enjoy the first finished tour of the new terminal. Virgin America is known for its modern and stylish design, including its signature cabin moodlighting (which transitions based on outside light and is intended to soothe and relax guests and even gradually awaken them on red eye flights) and white kiosk check-in tables and ticket/gate counters with a concierge desk look and feel. T2 offers living room-like gate spaces, imaginative lighting and world-class art installations. In line with the airline’s touch-screen entertainment, food on-demand, power outlets and fleetwide WiFi, T2 offers high-tech amenities like free WiFi and elevated laptop work stations with power. Similar to Virgin America’s own in-flight menus (which were named best in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure), T2 offers the best in local and organic dining. Lundberg Design additionally collaborated with Virgin America on its teammate lounge, baggage offices and other T2 areas, which are designed to achieve the highest possible LEED® Platinum-certified status.

Notable design features and amenities within T2: – Similar to Virgin America’s lighting, seating and design, T2’s “Recompose” area acts as a stress-reducing oasis post-security. – Virgin America’s T2 gates are designed as open, beautiful living room-like spaces in view of dining areas. – Virgin America T2 spaces feature mood-lit ticket counters and gates that model the airline’s distinctive cabin moodlighting. – Virgin America’s T2 counters offer a sleek, user-friendly and modern aesthetic, with low-profiles that remove barriers between agent and guest and white kiosk check-in tables with touch-screen panels and a concierge desk look-and-feel. – In line with Virgin America’s own award-winning food, T2 features Slow Food® concessions with a focus on locally-produced menus – including venues from chefs Cat Cora and Tyler Florence and California favorites like Pinkberry. – Massive art installations are featured throughout the terminal – even in the baggage claim area. – Laptop work-tables and plug-in stations, elevated work counters and free WiFi throughout. Interactive children’s play area.

T2’s sustainable build and design: – T2 aims to be the first LEED® Gold-certified airport terminal in the U.S. – Design elements include the vast utilization of natural light, modern ventilation systems that require 20% less energy and skylights and clerestories which bring daylight into the space and significantly reduce electricity usage. – ‘Hydration Stations’ allow flyers to fill reusable water bottles past security, reducing volume of waste. – The first airport dining program in the country to recruit Slow Food® vendors, T2 will feature organic food vendors and require use of compostable utensils/containers. – Contractors recycled 90% of construction debris from the project. – SFO requires ongoing source separation of all recyclable solid waste to enable the attainment of 90% recycling by 2020. – Preferential parking for hybrid cars. – With the airline’s additional investment in sustainable design, Virgin America’s T2 office spaces and “Virgin Village” crew lounge are designed to achieve the highest possible LEED® Platinum-certification.

Below are the additional steps the airline has taken:
o Use of “Greenguard” certified woods and USGS-approved furniture sourcing.
o Lighting is 35% more efficient than California Energy Codes, with night/day motion sensors.
o Energy efficient heating, cooling and ventilation with occupancy sensors in Virgin America rooms.
o All computers and office equipment are 100% EnergyStar certified.
o Green building materials include high-recycled content, locally-manufactured case goods and other products, particle board made from agricultural waste and wood certified to standards of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
o Use of low-emitting VOC paints, coatings and building products.
o Air filtered by the top-quality filtration system in the base building.
Virgin America’s Airbus A320 Family aircraft feature custom-designed seating, mood-lit cabins, outlets, fleetwide WiFi and touch-screen entertainment platforms with 30 films, live TV, Google Maps, videogames and an on-demand menu – so flyers can order a meal from their seat any time in-flight. The carrier’s new fleet is up to 25% more fuel and carbon efficient than the average flying domestically.

Visit Virgin America online to see more from the fantastic day.

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