Brisbane-based Virgin America recently hired an industry guru to help it shuffle its flights in search of better profits.
Part of that shuffle includes new service between San Jose and Los Angeles with two round trips daily on an Airbus 230 starting Wednesday. It's been nicknamed the "nerd bird" route because one of its destinations is for the tech-friendly travelers of Silicon Valley.
Virgin founder Richard Branson, Virgin America CEO David Cush, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Silicon Valley Leadership Group Carl Guardino and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed were on hand to greet passengers as the first flight touched down at Norm Mineta International Airport just after 9 a.m.
“I am excited to celebrate the arrival of Virgin America’s 'nerdbird' at San Jose International Airport," Reed said. "This new service from San Jose to Los Angeles will become a popular mode of travel for Silicon Valley start-up and corporate entrepreneurs. I thank Sir Richard Branson and CEO David Cush for their confidence and look forward to supporting Virgin America’s success at SJC.”
At a time when most people dread flying, Virgin America has managed to remain well-liked and the company has held onto its aura of "cool" thanks to mood lighting inside the cabin, always available WiFi and generally happy employees.
Like all airlines, it’s had its challenges – on Monday, a Genentech employee filed suit against the company claiming he was unjustly detained by police after Virgin America flight attendants falsely accused him of rude behavior on a flight between Philadelphia and San Francisco.
San Jose airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes points out the new route shows Virgin America recognizes the south bay’s economic importance. Passengers will appreciate SJC’s on time record: It’s far better than the often fog-soaked SFO.