An announcement that Virgin America airline service out of O’Hare is set to begin is expected at Chicago’s City Hall by Mayor Richard Daley and Virgin America CEO David Cush.
Last August Bloomberg reported that Virgin America service at O’Hare International Airport was unlikely, while Virgin America claimed it was negotiating with the city of Chicago for an “economically viable” deal. After lengthy negotiations faltered, a breakthrough came last week when a deal was reached with Delta Air Lines, which will deliver city control of the L Concourse in O’Hare’s Terminal 3 to the City of Chicago.
Virgin America attempted for about three years to work out of O’Hare as part of a plan to more than triple in size from 34 jets to 111 aircraft by 2019.
Virgin America’s plan at O’Hare centers on challenging United and American airlines on flights from Chicago to San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Virgin America, Inc. is a United States-based low-cost airline that began service on August 8, 2007 and is also the product of British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. San Francisco International Airport is Virgin America’s principal base of operations. By law, no more than 25% of a U.S. airline may be owned by foreign interests and must be under the “actual control” of U.S. citizens. Black Canyon Capital LLC owns 75% of the capital stock and is responsible for appointing two-thirds of the voting members of the board of directors. The remaining 25% of the company is owned by Virgin Group, which also licenses the Virgin brand to the airline.
Virgin America’s mission is to provide low-fare, high-quality service for “long-haul point-to-point service between major metropolitan cities on the Eastern and West Coast seaboards.” Virgin America’s frequent flyer program is known as eleVAte and runs on a “dollars spent versus miles accrued” model.
Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited (operating as Virgin Atlantic) is a British airline owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group (51%) and Singapore Airlines (49%). Virgin Atlantic is headquartered in Crawley, West Sussex, England, near London Gatwick Airport. While some cutbacks in flights from Heathrow to O’Hare have occurred in the past year, Virgin Atlantic Airways will still be seen in the skies over Chicagoland.
Virgina Atlantic operates between the United Kingdom and North America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia from main bases at Gatwick and London Heathrow Airport, using a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing wide-body aircraft.
Virgin Atlantic Airways A340-300 takeoff from O’Hare — not the same airline as Virgin America.