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Virgin America to start Hub service

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  December 8, 2008 08:04 AM

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Virgin America, the California-based discount airline, will launch service at Logan Airport starting Feb. 12 with service to San Francisco and Los Angeles.
"Boston is a great fit for us when you look at our business strategy. We link major urban centers, and there are a lot of ties between Boston and the San Francisco area in terms of tech fields, medicine, education,'' David Cush, president and chief executive of Virgin America, said this morning.
Virgin’s announcement comes three days after it said that it would suspend plans to fly out of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, the latest in a series of recent setbacks to the company’s aggressive growth plans.
Virgin is planning two daily flights from Logan to San Francisco International and three to Los Angeles, with main cabin rates starting at $149 one way, $570 for main cabin premium service, and $999 in first class. Tickets are now on sale on the airline's website.
Virgin, whose operational base is at San Francisco International Airport, began service in August 2007 with ambitious plans to be in as many as ten cities within its first year and up to 30 in five years.
It was the brainchild of British billionaire Richard Branson, who is a minority investor in the carrier and has licensed the Virgin brand to the company but is barred by US law from owning or controlling it.
Virgin currently serves San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, San Diego, and Seattle. Boston will be its eighth city.
Analysts have said that the key to Virgin’s growth would be its ability to develop a network around major business centers but it has recently been stymied in attempts to enter new markets.
The discount carrier said that it was planning to add two cities east of the Mississippi this year. And in a February interview, Cush hinted that the lucky two could be Chicago and Boston.
Virgin finally opted for Chicago and Newark, N.J. Plans for Newark got shelved this spring, however, because of government restrictions aimed at curbing air traffic in the New York area. And on Friday Virgin suspended its Chicago plans after failing to secure the gates they needed.
Virgin representatives had suggested that the carrier would likely not pursue expansion into Boston this year, amid the economic downturn.
But, Cush said, it was the decision to turn away from Chicago that opened the door to initiating service at Logan.
"We'd been talking to Logan since the beginning of operations in August,'' he said. "But things really heated up last week. We had some planes coming in, and we wanted to be able to put them in operation. So when it came time to look at pulling the plug on Chicago we got in touch with the people at Logan, and they were able to work out a nice offer of arrangements for us.''
Edward C. Freni, the Logan's director of aviation, has said that moves to consolidate operations of merger partners Delta Airlines and Northwest Airlines in Terminal A would clear space for the airport to offer gates to another domestic carrier.
Virgin’s Logan operations will be based in Terminal B, Matthew Brelis, an airport spokesman, said.
While the airline’s focus is on business travel, Virgin has also found favor with many leisure travelers owing to its newer planes, hip interior designs and mood lighting, and its luxury approach to lower-fare travel, which features leather seats, satellite TV, on-demand movies, streaming radio, and selection of MP3 music files. It also plans offer WiFi on all its aircraft by spring 2009.

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10 comments so far...
  1. Just a heads up on the typo. Its, not it's.

    Virgin currently serves San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, San Diego, and Seattle. Boston will be it’s eighth city.

    Posted by Bob December 8, 08 09:38 AM
  1. Nice!! This is great news. A quality low cost airline offering trans-con flights. Love it.

    Posted by Patrick December 8, 08 09:42 AM
  1. Typo #2 "has said that moves to consolidate operations of merger partners Delta Airlines and Northwest Airlines in Terminal A would clear space for airport to offer gates to another domestic carrier."

    would clear space for [the] airport

    Posted by s December 8, 08 12:23 PM
  1. Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor,

    My, what a short memory we have.

    I flew it's ancestress airline, Virgin out of Boston in 1992, to London.

    Don't reporters and editors use the news-clip morgue anymore?

    Posted by reindeergirl December 8, 08 12:41 PM
  1. Exciting! This will be great for Logan and Boston.

    Posted by JG December 8, 08 01:11 PM
  1. reindeergirl,
    Where's the short memory? Virgin Atlantic still fly transatlantic from Boston to London. What does that have to do with Virgin America starting service to the west coast? They are different companies - as the article states Branson is a minority shareholder and has licensed the use of the Virgin brand, but it is a separate company from the main Virgin Atlantic airline.

    Posted by rudolph December 8, 08 01:34 PM
  1. Having flown Virgin America a number of times from Washington DC to LAX, I'm happy for all Bostonians. This is a GREAT leisure airline, a tremendous value with fantastic features and quality service. I highly recommend choosing Virgin, particularly if you are young or young at heart--the new features onboard seemed to be most appreciated by those of us who want something refreshingly new in airline travel.

    Posted by Andrew December 8, 08 02:47 PM
  1. It's like you people have never heard of jetBlue. Weird. Believe me, B6 is a vastly superior airline to Virgin America, and you have plenty of service at Logan from jetBlue that I wouldn't go ditching them for the overhyped start-up.

    Posted by tc in dc December 8, 08 07:03 PM
  1. Love JetBlue, but they don't fly into LAX from BOS. Burbank and Long Beach are an expensive Supershuttle ride into Los Angeles and a lot of travel after a 5-hour flight. I'm very happy Virgin America is operating BOS to LAX. LAX to Santa Monica is a $15 Supershuttle ride, huge difference if you travel to Los Angeles on a regular basis.

    Posted by Kathleen Faherty December 22, 08 08:25 PM
  1. JetBlue prices between the bay area and Boston (typically $350-$400 each way) are 2x those of United, American and VA.
    It would be great to try it but it has always been too expensive and too inconvenient for me.

    Posted by Steve January 22, 09 01:52 PM
 
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