Highlighting the difficulties of the US domestic market, inclement weather delayed today's first flight of Virgin America, the airline backed by impish British billionaire Richard Branson. The airline, which aims to provide first-class amenities at budget-friendly fares, operates from its San Francisco hub to Los Angeles and New York's JFK airport, where rain dampened Branson's parade.
"The American airline industry is abysmal," said Branson, whose venture faced stiff opposition from regulators and competitors. "The reason they go bust is they don't offer any service to the customer." Among Virgin's amenities are mood lighting and entertainment systems. "We're not going to take it lightly," a rival executive said.