Certification issues delay launch of Virgin America

The launch of major US domestic airline brand Virgin America continues to be delayed, although branding and livery are understood to have already been designed by Start Creative in London.


Virgin America’s livery is being kept under wraps until the airline receives official certification from the US Department of Transportation. This process has been dogged by delays and wrangling with competitor airlines.


The company complained, last week, that rivals Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines are making ‘continued efforts to delay the US DOT from processing its application’, which was filed five months earlier.


The disagreements centre on the degree to which the airline is US-owned. Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson holds a minority stake in the company, with a trio of US investment groups holding the majority stake.


Start Creative and Virgin America declined to comment on the branding work, although a photograph of the livery, applied to an Airbus 320 aircraft, has been posted on the Internet. ‘We’re in the process of certification with the US DOT. That’s a touch-and-go process and we must be very careful not to get too presumptuous with respect to their ultimate decision,’ says a Virgin America spokeswoman.


Virgin Group has granted a licence for the airline to use the Virgin brand identity, and orders have been placed for 34 A320 aircraft.


Although Virgin Group holds a stake in both Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic, the two companies are otherwise unconnected, with separate management teams and operations.

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