London: Virgin America Inc, the low-cost airline partly owned by Richard Branson, filed for an initial public offering of shares as it looks to expand in the recovering US airline market.
The company, known for mood lighting and wi-fi and comfortable leather seats even in economy class, offers flights to 22 cities in the United States and Mexico, using a fleet of 53 Airbus A320 aircraft.
Branson, whose investment in the airline is restricted by US foreign investment rules, owns a 22 percent stake in Virgin America through the Virgin Group and a hedge fund. The British billionaire also owns a 51 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic, which last posted an annual profit in 2011.
Virgin America has been ranked first among US airlines for the last two years in the annual national Airline Quality Rating performance study published by researchers at Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The airline earned $10.5m on revenue of $1.42bn in 2013, its first profitable year since it took to the skies in 2007. Most of its flights operate to and from its focus cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Virgin America won some takeoff and landing rights earlier this year at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.