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Virgin America marks launch of Newark service

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Virgin America is rolling out the red carpet to celebrate the launch of service out of Newark Liberty International Airport.

The airline last week began offering three daily nonstop flights each to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson was at the Newark airport on Tuesday for a red carpet reception for travelers heading to Los Angeles.

A report Monday ranked Virgin America the best of the 14 largest U.S. airlines for 2012, based on such factors as on-time arrivals and mishandled baggage.

Virgin's cross-country service will compete with United Airlines, by far the largest carrier at Newark Liberty. United announced this week the signing of a 20-year lease extension in Newark.