(Silver Spring, MD and San Francisco, CA – Dec. 4, 2008) As part of a continuing effort to implement innovative environmental sustainability practices, Virgin America, the California-based airline, has partnered with Carbonfund.org , the nation’s leading nonprofit carbon offset provider, to allow travelers to help offset the environmental impact of their flight. Travelers on the new airline can choose to offset their flight at the time of booking through the Virgin America ticket purchase confirmation web page. Coming soon, Virgin America will also give guests the opportunity to offset during their flight via the airline’s touch-screen seatback inflight entertainment system.
“As both a Virgin-branded company and the country’s only California-based airline, it is in our DNA to make environmentally sustainable practices a core priority in our business model,” said Virgin America Senior Vice President Dave Pflieger. “While our investment in new aircraft and consistent use of operational practices already make us one of the most environmentally efficient airlines in the U.S., our partnership with Carbonfund.org will give our guests the option to help us further reduce our carbon footprint through fully-vetted and impactful offset projects.”
Virgin America and Carbonfund.org selected offset projects focus on emissions reductions in renewable energy and energy efficiency. As with all projects supported by Carbonfund.org, these projects are independently verified. The new carrier also looked to Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) CarbonOffsetList.org to help select credible and meaningful offset projects. EDF’s carefully researched list provides a strong and independent starting point for selecting carbon offsets that represent real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Virgin America’s selected projects include:
• Inland Empire Utilities Agency Biodigester, a methane capture and elimination project that creates clean, renewable energy and reduces more than 8,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere every year, while also protecting the quality of the region’s groundwater. The project is located in Chino Basin, Calif.
• IdleAire, a truck stop electrification project that reduces tailpipe emissions from trucks by connecting truck cabins with electricity at rest stops and eliminating the need to keep engines running for power. This approach saves a gallon of diesel per hour.
“Our partnership with Virgin America means support for two innovative projects in the fight against global warming,” said Executive Director Eric Carlson of Carbonfund.org. “We are excited to partner with Virgin America, an airline that has been committed to sustainability practices since day one. Providing travelers a way to get involved in the sustainability effort, by offsetting their flight emissions at the time of bookings, fits well with our goal of making it easy and affordable to offset one’s carbon footprint and support emissions reductions. ”
Developed through a rigorous review process in collaboration with a committee of external experts, CarbonOffsetList.org identifies pre-screened, independently verified offset projects that meet EDF’s criteria for high-quality carbon offsets. Of the 11 projects featured on CarbonOffsetList.org, four are offered through Carbonfund.org.
“While leading companies are eager to purchase carbon offsets to help meet their sustainability goals, many remain unclear where to start in selecting these offsets,” said Tom Murray, managing director, corporate partnerships, EDF. “We developed CarbonOffsetList.org to enable companies such as Virgin America to confidently choose credible offsets. CarbonOffsetList.org eliminates the guesswork and offers buyers direct access to a list of thoroughly vetted projects that meet EDF’s high-quality criteria.”
Virgin America launched in 2007 with the goal of building an airline from the ground up that makes environmentally sustainable practices a core part of its business model. Virgin America operates a fleet that is up to 30% more fuel and carbon efficient than the average fleet flying domestically. From its launch, the airline has employed progressive practices to reduce its carbon footprint, such as single engine taxiing, idle reverse landings, maximizing use of efficient ground power, utilizing advanced avionics to fly more efficiently, and cost index flying – the practice of regulating cruising speeds to reduce fuel burn. The airline’s company-wide sustainability principles can be found at: http://www.virginamerica.com/va/html/sustainability.pdf
More details on the offset program and selected projects can be found at: www.carbonfund.org/virginamerica.
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EDITORS NOTE: Virgin America is a U.S.-controlled and operated airline and an entirely separate company from Virgin Atlantic. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is a minority share investor in Virgin America.