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Tue, Jun 12, 2007

Virgin USA Launches Online Aircraft Charter Network

Currently Invitation-Only, Will Go Public Later This Year

Virgin USA, the North American headquarters of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, announced Tuesday the launch of Virgin Charter, a new online aircraft charter marketplace. 

Company representatives call Virgin Charter a full-service marketplace that brings together buyers who want to book private air travel with charter operators. Through Virgin Charter, sellers make their inventory available to a large customer base without changing the way they currently do business, and buyers search for available aircraft, negotiate pricing, purchase private air travel, and manage their entire trip online.

Virgin Charter does not own or operate aircraft, and it does not act as a broker. (As the company notes on its website -- "We won't own jets. We won't fly jets. We aren't Joan Jett.')

The Virgin Charter team is led by founder and CEO Scott Duffy, a seasoned Internet executive and private aviation veteran who served as a managing director for one of the largest charter brokers of private aircraft in the world. The team also includes technology and aviation executives from Google, Expedia, eBay and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Said Duffy, "Virgin Charter's centralized marketplace will revolutionize private aviation by providing tremendous efficiencies to what has been a highly fragmented industry."

"The Virgin Group has a long track record in building businesses that offer brilliant customer service and product innovation," said Virgin USA CEO Frances Farrow. "We believe that Virgin Charter’s success will also mean success for charter operators and flyers."

"From the time I met the Virgin Charter team, providing the highest standards for safety and quality has been their number one priority," said Jim Betlyon, CEO of Wyvern and CharterX.  "We are pleased to be partnering with a firm that goes beyond lip service to bring unprecedented innovation to private aviation."

"We’re really excited about Virgin Charter’s potential in the market," said Sir Richard Branson. "Buckle up and prepare for a lot more exciting news from this impressive team of technology and aviation experts."

The company has released a private invitation-only beta and plans to launch its public marketplace later this year.

FMI: www.virgincharter.com

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