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Virgin America first US airline to join the Climate Registry

Written by editor

SAN FRANCISCO – The Climate Registry, a nonprofit organization that sets consistent standards to calculate, verify and report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and Virgin America, the California-based a

SAN FRANCISCO – The Climate Registry, a nonprofit organization that sets consistent standards to calculate, verify and report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and Virgin America, the California-based award-winning airline, today announced the carrier has become the first U.S. airline to join The Climate Registry and commit to report its GHG emissions according to The Registry’s comprehensive, rigorous standards.

Virgin America will report accurate and recognized emissions data as a Member of The Climate Registry on an annual basis as it measures and manages its emissions and carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction goals.

“As the only California-based airline, it is in our DNA to make environmentally sustainable practices a core priority in our business model,” said Dave Pflieger Senior Vice President of Legal, Government Affairs and Sustainability at Virgin America. “We’re proud to join visionary California leaders like Senator Boxer and Rep. Waxman in calling for transparency in reporting and controlling CO2 and other greenhouse gases. We hope to do our part to promote awareness and transparency about the impact our industry has on the environment.”

The airline’s move to voluntarily report emissions comes at a critical time as U.S. legislators and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have recently solicited public input about mandatory GHG emissions reporting policies. In addition, Congressmen Waxman (D-CA) and Markey (D-MA) recently proposed legislation that would require EPA to create greenhouse gas emissions standards for aircraft and aircraft engines by the end of 2012.

“I congratulate Virgin America for achieving the notable distinction of being the first airline to join The Climate Registry. By voluntarily measuring and reporting its carbon footprint, the airline sets a standard for others to follow,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo).

Launched in August 2007, Virgin America has made environmentally sustainable practices part of its training and operations from day one. 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, it became the first commercial passenger airline to join EPA’s Climate Leaders program and to work with EPA to create a verified inventory of its GHG emissions. By becoming a Member of The Climate Registry, Virgin America will be reporting a more comprehensive emissions report based on more rigorous standards. Later this spring, the carrier will publish a comprehensive 2008 emissions report for all six internationally-recognized GHGs.

“We are very pleased to welcome Virgin America as our first airline Member. The company is known for being a pioneer in delivering innovative service. Being a pioneer in environmental responsibility, though, makes a significant impact in addressing our very urgent issue of climate change. For taking such a visible leadership role among its peers and other businesses across the U.S., Virgin America should be recognized and serve as a model for other highly visible businesses,” said Diane Wittenberg, Executive Director of The Climate Registry.

The Climate Registry sets consistent and transparent standards to calculate, verify and publicly report GHG emissions. Forty-one U.S. states, Washington D.C., 12 Canadian provinces and territories, six Mexican states and four native sovereign nations sit on its Board of Directors. For an emissions report to be accepted by The Registry and labeled as Climate Registered(TM), it must include applicable data on all six internationally-recognized GHGs for all North American locations. The data must be reported according to the comprehensive and rigorous standards established in The Registry’s General Reporting Protocol (GRP) and verified by an independent, third-party Verification Body that is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and recognized by The Registry.

“While our relative performance against other domestic carriers shows us as one of the most efficient U.S. airlines in terms of CO2 emissions on an available seat mile (ASM) basis, we’re focused on maintaining that lead and trying to further decrease and offset our CO2 footprint in the years ahead,” added Pflieger.