Virgin America -- the discount airline known for its purple lit interiors, leather seats, and quirky marketing stunts -- is going public.
The shares to be offered as well as the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined, the company said in its filing with the Security Exchange Commission.
Founded in 2007, the airline – despite its association with Richard Branson's Virgin empire – is only partially owned by the serial entrepreneur. (Because of U.S. regulations that limit foreign ownership in American airlines to no more than 25 percent, Branson's Virgin Holding Group only owns about 22 percent of Virgin America's voting stock, making him a minority shareholder.)
Last year marked the first time the airline turned an annual profit, earning $10.1 million on revenue of $1.4 billion, a drastic boost from its financial performance in 2012, when it reported a net loss of $145.3 million.
The carrier serves 22 airports throughout North America. While the majority of its flights go to and from Los Angeles and San Francisco, the airline is looking to expand the variety of routes it offers travelers. "We believe there are significant opportunities to expand our service from our focus cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco to other large markets throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico," the carrier wrote in its registration statement filed with the SEC.
While American airlines fare poorly when compared with airlines from other countries (in large part because U.S. carriers have largely downsized their loyalty programs, forcing customers to pony up if they want to avoid cramped, uncomfortable conditions), Virgin America may be the best of the un-stellar lot. This year, for the seventh consecutive time, Travel + Leisure named the airline the top in the country.
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