Sustainable Growth

Virgin America is proud to lead the industry in fuel efficiency and reduced carbon emissions. However, absolute reductions are challenging for a growing airline. As a result, Virgin America continues to make large–scale investments in its fleet and facilities while reviewing every niche of its operations to reduce its carbon footprint.



The most impactful way for an airline to minimize its footprint is to have a young and fuel-efficient fleet and Virgin America's current Airbus A320 family fleet is the youngest in the U.S. and up to 15% more fuel efficient than other U.S. domestic fleets.  Beginning in 2013 we began taking delivery of new aircraft equipped with sharklets, wingtip devices with the potential to help the airline realize to up 4% additional fuel efficiency across the network. Virgin America has also implemented another 25 operational initiatives, such as real-time winds and a direct routing service from Boeing, to ensure we maintain the lowest possible fuel burn. In 2014, we became the first U.S. airline certified by the FAA to fly 0.1 Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approaches on Airbus A320 family aircraft -- this certification allows select aircraft to fly approaches to qualified airports in reduced visibility, allowing us reduce both emissions and fuel consumption.



As Virgin America continues to expand by adding around 200 new teammates per year, the airline is investing in sustainable facilities and the implementation of best practices. The airline’s Burlingame, California Headquarters has a LEED®-certified Silver standard and has an Energy Star Rating of 87 out of 100, with features including dual-flush toilets that reduce water use by as much as 243,000 gallons annually.



In April 2011, Virgin America opened its sleek and sustainable new home at San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 2 (T2). As the only airline headquartered at SFO and as an anchor tenant, the airline had the opportunity to inform the T2 design from the earliest stages. The Terminal has since achieved LEED® Gold–certification. Additionally, Virgin America invested in its T2 office spaces and “Virgin Village” teammate lounge to achieve the highest possible LEED® Platinum–certification. The LEED® Gold and Platinum certifications are the first such certifications given to a major commercial airport in the U.S. For more on how Virgin America partnered with SFO to help create the nation’s most eco–efficient major airport, click here.



Consistent use of sustainable practices and the latest technology on the ground and in the air have made Virgin America’s fleet one of the most carbon efficient – up to 15% more efficient than the U.S. average. The airline employs progressive practices to reduce its footprint such as minimizing use of auxiliary power units, single–engine taxiing, idle reverse landings, utilizing advanced avionics to fly more efficiently, and dynamic cost index flying – the practice of regulating cruising speed to reduce fuel burn. Recently, Virgin America joined forces with NASA to test new software created by the space agency that will help reduce fuel consuption and carbon emissions. The technology connects to existing cockpit systems and allow for easier, more automatic route optimization, which could eventually help Virgin America use up to 1.4 million fewer gallons of fuel every year. For more on the airline’s practices, click here.



Small changes add up: The airline is focused on furthering waste minimization and recycling efforts at Virgin America’s headquarters and at airport facilities. For more on the airline’s waste reduction and recycling efforts, click here.