SAN FRANCISCO, April 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Virgin America, the only California-based airline, is partnering for the third consecutive year with the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) for Earth Day to support vital environmental restoration projects across the state. Virgin America teammates pitched in at San Francisco's Candlestick Point State Recreation Area last weekend where they planted native trees, "gopher-proofed" garden boxes and installed split-rail protective fencing around a seasonal lagoon to protect wetland plants and wildlife. Virgin America teammates in other cities around the country are also participating in local environmental clean-up events.
Virgin America is encouraging guests flying on the airline today to use the Red(TM) seatback touch-screen entertainment system to make a donation to CSPF or offset the carbon emissions of their flight with non-profit Carbonfund.org.
"As San Francisco's hometown airline, sustainability is important to our community, teammates and guests -- and has been part of our Company's DNA from day one. We're pleased to continue our partnership with the CSPF for the third year in order to help protect and restore our state's incredible natural resources -- especially those in underserved communities -- like Candlestick Point," said Frances Fiorillo, Senior Vice President of People and In-flight Services at Virgin America. "We're also proud to be the only airline able to offer travelers an opportunity to support environmental restoration and energy conservation projects via our in-flight entertainment system."
Virgin America teammates' efforts at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area helped to expand and improve the park's community garden and shoreline. Candlestick Point State Recreation Area is the state's first "urban" park and includes a community garden, open wildlife areas and other public spaces that support a better way of life in this underserved Bay Area neighborhood.
"We are thrilled to extend our partnership with Virgin America for the third consecutive year," said Elizabeth Goldstein, President of California State Parks Foundation. "Their contributions of time and financial resources will help us continue our mission to restore and preserve the state's historic and natural treasures."
In 2009, Virgin America became the first airline to offer carbon offsets in-flight via its touch-screen seatback Red(TM) entertainment platform and Carbonfund.org. Virgin America and Carbonfund.org selected offset projects focused on emissions reductions and energy efficiency primarily in California. As with all projects supported by Carbonfund.org, these projects are independently verified. Virgin America offsets the carbon footprint of its headquarters operation on an annual basis, by purchasing verifiable CO2 offsets.
Since it launched, Virgin America has made environmentally sustainable practices part of its training and operations. The carrier operates a new Airbus A320-family fleet that is up to 25% more CO2 efficient than other domestic fleets and 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 cost index flying -- the practice of regulating cruising speed to reduce fuel burn. In October 2008, Virgin America became the first commercial passenger airline to join the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Climate Leaders program. Since that time, the airline has worked with EPA to review and approve the inventory of its annual GHG emissions. In 2009, Virgin America became the first U.S. airline to become a member of The Climate Registry and published its first annual Climate Report, which includes an overview of its industry-leading sustainability efforts as well as comprehensive 2008 emissions data for all six internationally-recognized greenhouse gases (GHGs). The report also benchmarks the airline's performance versus other domestic carriers and includes information on the sustainability best practices it employs.