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US Department of Transportation (DOT) has tentatively approved Virgin America”s application to start a new American airline and says it finds that the carrier is owned and controlled by US citizens and is fit to operate as a domestic carrier.
In its revisions to the original filing, Virgin America offered to replace its current chief executive officer Fred Reid (pictured), whose longstanding association with foreign investors had raised concerns about who would control the new carrier. The company proposed other reforms to bolster the US applicant”s independence from British investors.
Virgin America said it hoped to receive final DOT approval in anticipation of a mid-summer launch from its base at San Francisco International Airport to New York”s John F. Kennedy Airport. Four additional cities ” Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Washington DC ” are planned to be added within nine months of the company's first flight. The airline took delivery of its initial Airbus A320 back in October with California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in attendance.
”Today”s order puts us one giant step closer to flying,” said Virgin America spokesman Gareth Edmondson-Jones. ”We look forward to finally get our wings ” it will be a huge win for our employees, investors, supporters and the travelling public.”
Virgin America is also in the final stages of receiving approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the first new airline ever to be certified through the agency”s new Air Transportation and Oversight System (ATOS) safety programme ” the FAA's newest and most advanced safety surveillance programme. The airline finished its formal FAA safety evaluation in December 2006, and FAA officials commented that it was "the best certification they had seen in 25 years."