On October 1, 2014, successful aviation business leader David Pflieger was hired by Mr. Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, as a direct report to assume the roles of President and Chief Executive Officer at Island Air, an inter-island airline wholly owned by Ellison that operated throughout Hawaii. In addition to these positions, Mr. Pflieger accepted a seat on the company’s board of directors.
Prior to joining Island Air, David Pflieger demonstrated his business acumen with multiple successful airline turnarounds. He served as the President and CEO of Silver Airways in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after spending three years as the Managing Director and CEO of Fiji Airways, where he led an extensive turnaround and rebranding effort that transformed the company from a financially struggling airline to a prosperous international carrier honored multiple times by Condé Nast Traveler. Prior to his work in Fiji, Mr. Pflieger was a founding officer at Virgin America in San Francisco.
At Island Air, Dave Pflieger joined a company with a long history of service to Hawaiian communities. The firm began as a two-plane service under the name Princeville Airways in 1980, providing flights between Honolulu and Kauai. By 1987, the company had expanded its fleet to eight aircraft and assumed the name Aloha Island Air after its acquisition by Aloha Air Group. The airline received its FAA certification to operate large aircraft in 1995 and became an independent carrier soon after, passing into the ownership of Gavarnie Holding, LLC.
Following its successful turnaround in just 14 months by Mr. Pflieger, Island Air was sold to PacifiCap, LLC, the largest venture capital firm in Hawaii, and it continues to operate daily flights between Lihue, Kahului, Kona, and Honolulu. The airline also continues to support the broader Hawaiian community through a robust corporate responsibility program benefiting organizations such as the University of Hawaii and Best Buddies Hawaii, as well as the Explorers Program, a hands-on educational experience for young, aspiring aviation professionals.
Virgin America publicly reports verified greenhouse gas emissions and data on fuel consumption for all of its domestic flights, with the aim of staying on track to reduce emissions and keeping operations as green as possible. All emissions are independently verified by a third party using the standards set by the Climate Registry, and the numbers include flights, corporate operations, and ground services. By keeping track of this data, the airline monitors its own progress toward key sustainability goals.
Virgin established its baseline carbon footprint in 2008, the first year that it achieved full operations. Since then, it has publicly reported its fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
As it continues to grow in both fleet size and passenger traffic, the airline continually seeks out new opportunities for reducing its carbon footprint, such as the carbon offset program offered in collaboration with Carbonfund.org. Using the in-flight entertainment system to purchase carbon offsets, Virgin customers have collectively mitigated more than 7 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
In 2008, David Pflieger led Virgin America to become the first US airline to register its greenhouse emissions. With assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency, Virgin America reported its emissions on the Climate Registry. In addition, Pflieger facilitated a partnership with the Carbon Fund to enable passengers to buy carbon offsets.
An experienced aviation industry professional, David “Dave” Pflieger is a dedicated philanthropist with a commitment to sustainability efforts and corporate social responsibility (CSR). David Pflieger’s early work in this area included overseeing the establishment of Virgin America’s CSR program and leading the airline’s “Green Team,” which partnered with the U.S. EPA to examine every area of the company’s operations in order to measure and manage the company’s carbon footprint.
Virgin America’s “Green Team,” which consists of workers from every department of the company, including pilots, dispatchers, in-flight crew, and airport guest services, is focused on reducing the airline’s carbon footprint and exploring new venues to enhance its sustainability measures for both air and ground operations. Meeting quarterly, the team discusses matters of sustainability and makes recommendations about upcoming projects, which may range from improving efficiencies and green procurement and to promoting resource conservation and recycling.
Achievements of the “Green Team” to date include beach clean-ups, an onboard recycling program, the addition of organic and healthy items to the airline’s in-flight menu, and participation in the 2010 and 2011 Great Race for Clean Air. In addition, the team created a bike-sharing program in Fort Lauderdale for use by pilots and in-flight crew on layovers. It also initiated the collection of renewable materials in airports where recycling is not possible.
To learn more about the Green Team and its accomplishments, visit virginamerica.com/cms/corporate-responsibility/collaboration.
A skilled professional in the aviation industry, David “Dave” Pflieger served as the CEO and Managing Director for Air Pacific, which he later rebranded to Fiji Airways. While at Air Pacific, David Pflieger helped ensure the education of underprivileged children in Fiji by funding scholarships for those in need through the airline’s Wings of Hope program.
Wings of Hope was originally started as a means to distribute unused foreign coins collected from passengers via Air Pacific’s “Cash for Kids program”. Under Dave Pflieger’s leadership however, Air Pacific broadened Wings of Hope and partnered with the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development (FRIEND) to create direct scholarships for books, tuition, and other necessary school supplies for children living in poverty in Fiji. Notably, the partnership, allowed Air Pacific to donate over $160,000 in company funds to promote education and also help families and children affected by cyclones and severe floods in 2012 and 2013—floods which damaged homes and crops and prevented families from sending their children to school.
To learn more about Wings of Hope and its initiatives, visit fijiairways.com/about-fiji-airways/wings-of-hope.
About David Pflieger
David Pflieger - Senior Airline Executive