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Virgin America to start Hawaii service in 2015

    A Virgin America Airbus A320 plane with sharklets is seen in this courtesy photo. (Courtesy Virgin America)

  • In this photo released by Virgin America Airlines, Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson speaks to guests during celebration of the launch of its new service to Newark, N.J. from San Francisco and Los Angeles, at Newark Liberty International Airport Tuesday in Newark. (AP Photo/Virgin America, Bob Riha, Jr.)

Virgin America said today it hopes to expand service to Hawaii in 2015.

The low-cost airline recently announced it has added to its fleet an Airbus A320 equipped with Sharklets, or wing tips, which improve fuel efficiency and enable the jet to make extended trips over water.

The A320 with Sharklets can reach Hawaii from the West Coast.

“We hope to expand our route network to include Hawaii in 2015, when we begin taking delivery of more Sharklet-equipped A320s,” said Virgin spokeswoman Jennifer Thomas, in an email.

The expansion to Hawaii was first reported by in an interview with Virgin America CEO David Cush.

When asked if the A320 with Sharklets would allow Virgin America to open any new routes, Cush said, “The main thing is that it lets you do West Coast to Hawaii, and that’s something you can’t do with the current aircraft. And so we’ll be using Sharklet equipped airplanes in 2015 when we start flying to Hawaii, and we can’t do that without the Sharklets.”

Cush said the airline will be adding 10 Airbus jets with Sharklets from 2015 to 2016.

Virgin America is a U.S.-controlled and operated airline and is separate from Virgin Atlantic. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is a minority share investor in Virgin America.

Virgin America is headquartered in Burlingame, Calif., and uses the San Francisco International Airport as its main hub.

Since its founding in 2007, the airline has expanded to 20 airport destinations, most on the East or West Coasts.

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