UPDATED 02/17/11 1:12 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — It is now a done deal – Virgin America will begin service at O’Hare International Airport in May.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports
The upscale airline will have daily flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco. The airline will have a special introductory fare of $99 each way.
At a news conference with Mayor Richard M. Daley Thursday, airline president and chief executive officer David Cush promised the airline’s entry into O’Hare will drive down fares to the West Coast.
“When we enter markets, fares drop. That’s a fact. Every market we go into, generally, fares drop by about 30 percent,” Cush said.
Cush says the airline will also “show Chicagoans how Virgin does it.”
“A different type of air travel,” he said. “We’ve got seat –back entertainment in every airplane, we’ve got mood lighting, we’ve got wi-fi access on every single aircraft, so it’s going to be a very different type of experience than United or American,” Cush said.
Delta Airlines last week handed the City of Chicago control of the L Concourse in O’Hare Terminal 3. Virgin America will be using the concourse.
In celebration of its success entering O’Hare, Virgin America is also offering a special deal with Chicago-based Groupon for reduced fares.
CNET reports Groupon users can buy $77 worth of Virgin America credit for $7, but the credit can only be used for the Chicago routes on economy-class round trip fares through Nov. 15. Travel must be booked by May 25, and there are blackout dates.
Virgin America had been trying to get access to O’Hare gates for almost three years, as part of a plan to triple its size from 34 jets to 111 by 2019. Virgin Atlantic international flights already take off from O’Hare.