In the airline industry, the fittest do not always survive. But that has not stopped start-up carriers like Virgin America from trying.
Virgin, now nearly three years old, introduced service from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Toronto last week — its first international destination — and announced plans to fly to Mexico next winter. But its mixed efforts to expand into other markets in the United States illustrate many of the barriers that new airlines face, particularly as big competitors consolidate and expand their global reach.
Industry experts offer a long list of challenges faced by start-up carriers, as well as discount airlines like Southwest and JetBlue. That list includes access to takeoff slots and gates at desirable airports, restrictions on foreign investment in American airlines, and rules preventing foreign carriers from flying within the United States — all hurdles that Virgin America has had to overcome.