Virgin America: Not this year

Virgin America will likely not start flying this year, as was originally hoped, officials said Monday.

The Burlingame-based, American company started byVirgin Group mogul Richard Branson and now owned mostly by American shareholders planned to start running flights out of a hub at San Francisco International Airport this year.

But Virgin says Continental and other airlines opposing the approval continue to hold up the process with the federal Department of Transportation.

Continental spokesman David Messing has said there are significant foreign control issues raised by the application. Messing said Monday that the company didn’t have comments in response to the expected start date delay, but noted that their stance has not changed.

Seventy-five percent of a company’s shareholders and two thirds of its board of directors must be American for it to be considered an American company. Virgin America spokesman Gareth Edmondson-Jones said his company meets both criteria.

“We’ve obviously experienced some delays, but we’re ready to get going,” Edmonson-Jones said. “We’re hopeful that we can start flying in January.”

In July, the Department of Transportation said the application was complete, meaning the department’s questions had been answered but other parties can comment on the case.

The process typically takes six months from that point, which will put any decision beyond the 2006 target to get up and running, Edmonson-Jones said.

The start-up delays prompted Virgin America to borrow $53 million from the Virgin Group, a minority investor with a 25 percent stake in the company, which will be repaid after the company starts selling tickets.

A number of county officials and local economic development groups have been behind the plan, including the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau and San Mateo County Economic Development Association, looking forward to the expected economic boost a new airline would bring to the Peninsula.

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

Steven Buss, left, and Sachin Agarwal co-founded Grow SF, which plans to produce election voter guides offering a moderate agenda. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Grow SF: New tech group aims to promote moderate ideals to political newcomers

Sachin Agarwal has lived in San Francisco for 15 years. But the… Continue reading

Most Read