The Australian Business Class seat race is heating up with details of Virgin Australia’s state of the art Business Class Suite being released, which will be introduced into the airlines Domestic East Cost to Perth and Boeing 777 International routes.
Virgin Australia is adding an additional six flights per week to Bali Indonesia from the east coast of Australia. The additional flights that will go into operation from 19 December will see an additional three flights from Melbourne, two flights from Sydney and an extra weekly flight from Brisbane. All flights will be operated on Virgin Australia’s new two class (Economy and Business) Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Virgin Australia Chief Commercial Officer Judith Crompton said: “Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to adapting our schedule to meet the demand of travellers. “Bali is one of Australia’s most popular international leisure destinations, visited by over 2.8 million Australians each year. By adding more than 1,000 seats per week, we will be able to support increased demand to this region. “We have also invested in a number of product and service enhancements on our services to and from Bali, to enhance the travel experience for our customers. We are now pleased to offer inclusive hot meals and choice of beverages and, by the end of the year, our innovative new wireless in-flight entertainment system will be available on all flights to and from Bali”, Ms Crompton said.
Virgin Australia announced today that the airline had added an additional five Indonesian destinations through an expansion of it code share arrangement with SilkAir. The additional five destinations will increase to ten the number of Indonesian destinations which Virgin Australia codeshares on. The new destinations which include Bandung (BDO), Balikpapan (BPN), Lombok (LOP), Palembang (PLM) and Solo (SOC) will operate via Singapore on 2 Class Airbus A319 and Airbus A320 Aircraft. Virgin Australia Chief Commercial Officer Judith Crompton said: “Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and one of Australia’s most important trading partners, with over eleven billion dollars’ worth of trade between the two countries in 20121. “We now have Virgin Australia marketing code on ten destinations across Indonesia that can be accessed on one ticket from all Virgin Australia serviced airports across Australia and New Zealand. “SilkAir offers a high quality business and economy class product with a strong emphasis on customer service, ensuring the best possible travel experience for our customers”, Ms Crompton said.
Virgin Australia today unveiled its new regional airline operation with Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Australia Chief Executive Officer John Borghetti in Perth. Following the acquisition of Skywest Airlines last month, today marked the launch of the newly branded airline. The first two aircraft to be rebranded as ‘Virgin Australia’ were officially unveiled, representing the airline’s commitment to continued investment and new growth opportunities for regional and charter travel in Australia. The entity known as Virgin Australia Regional Airlines will be based in Western Australia and the operation will now have 32 aircraft operating over 800 services per week to 41 different destinations. Virgin Australia Chief Executive Officer John Borghetti described it as a momentous day for the airline, tourism and the travel industry. “This country has one of the most geographically dispersed populations in the world and reliable, affordable air services are vital to the growth of regional Australia. “In 2010, we articulated a strategy to become the airline of choice for all travellers in Australia. Since then, we have changed the competitive landscape in many ways and today marks our next major leap forward. “By integrating Skywest Airlines into the Virgin Australia Group, we unlock new opportunities to grow our services to regional Australia and significantly increase our charter presence in the highgrowth fly-in-fly-out markets. “Western Australia is one of the fastest growing aviation markets and a very important part of our strategy. We have made significant investment over the past two years with the introduction of our internationally configured Airbus A330 aircraft on services between the East and West Coast, increased frequencies to the resource-rich Pilbara region and established a large crew base in Perth. “By building a Perth-based operation and workforce, we will continue to invest in local resources, expertise and infrastructure”, Mr Borghetti said. Sir Richard Branson said: “It is fantastic what John and the team have done over the last couple of years, completely repositioning the airline with the introduction of the Virgin Australia brand and its brilliant product and service. Now I am thrilled to see him focusing on other market segments including regional and charter services where I know they will deliver. “This is the start of the next ground-breaking chapter for the Virgin Australia Group and an exciting time for the airline”, Sir Richard said.
Hot on the heels of today’s announcement from Qantas that they will upgrade the Darwin Qantas Club lounge to more than double its existing size, Virgin Australia has announced that the airline will build its own lounge at Darwin International Airport. The new Virgin Australia Lounge will be made possible due to the planned $60 million upgrade of Darwin Airport and is expected to be complete by the middle of 2014. Virgin Australia welcomed the upgrade of Darwin International Airport saying the new and upgraded facilities will move the Virgin Australia check-in area to a new part of the terminal which will allow streamlined security processing. Virgin Australia’s Chief Operating Officer Sean Donohue said, “Over the past two years, Virgin Australia has been expanding its presence in the Northern Territory and making enhancements to improve the travel experience for our customers. “We recognise the increasing importance of Darwin in line with the growth of the Northern Territory as a business and tourism destination. To date we have launched Sydney-Darwin flights, commenced codeshare on SilkAir international flights from Darwin and announced a new 150-seat airport lounge to be launched in 2014. With the recent acquisition of Skywest Airlines, Virgin Australia will now fly direct from Darwin to Broome and Kununurra. “We are pleased to announce today that as part of the airport upgrade, we will be able to deliver a more seamless arrival and departure experience for our guests through enhanced check-in and gate facilities. The new lounge will feature Virgin Australia’s trademark style, including luxury seating, gourmet food and beverage designed by internationally-acclaimed chef Luke Mangan and impressive views across the airport landscape. “We look forward to working closely with Darwin International Airport to ensure the best possible experience for our customers and to continue to promote Darwin as a business and tourism destination”, Mr Donohue said. Virgin Australia currently flies direct to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth from the Northern Territory, offering 58 services per week to connect to 30 domestic and over 400 international cities. The airline also codeshares on SilkAir’s 4 return flights per week between Singapore and Darwin. SilkAir is the regional airline of Singapore Airlines.
Virgin Australia today announced that they would be adding a new feature to all Velocity Frequent Flyer Membership cards, the new feature Global Wallet will combine the Velocity Frequent Flyer Membership Card with a prepaid travel money card. Features of the card will include: Load money onto their card and store it in multiple foreign currencies as well as Australian dollars; Make purchases at over 30 million locations around the world, wherever Visa is accepted; Withdraw funds from over 2 million ATMs in Australia and around the world; and Earn Velocity Frequent Flyer Points for purchases made using their Global Wallet™, both in Australia and overseas. All future cards will include the Global Wallet travel money feature which can be enabled by activating the feature online at any time. The Global Wallet launch from Virgin Australia is hot on the heels of the Qantas’ prepaid travel card Qantas Cash which was released in February this year. Velocity Frequent Flyer Chief Executive Officer Neil Thompson said: “We are delighted to unveil the Global Wallet in partnership with Visa. “This new prepaid innovation encapsulates Velocity Frequent Flyer’s proposition as a multi-faceted program that pushes traditional boundaries. “Not only will our cards be the access point to a range of Velocity benefits including seamless check-in, access to lounges and priority services, they will make spending in Australia and overseas an easier, more rewarding experience. “Through our strong global network with Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Air New Zealand, our members can earn Points on flights around the world and this initiative is another way they can be rewarded right throughout their journey. “We look forward to sharing more about the Global Wallet’s unique features when it launches in the coming months. “We are also working with Rev Worldwide, a global payments specialist to deliver the product to market and we look forward to sharing more about the Global Wallet’s unique features when it launches in the coming months,” Mr Thompson said. Visa’s Country Manager Australia Vipin Kalra said the new card featured smart chip technology and the convenience of Visa payWave to enable fast, contactless payments. “Australians are increasingly attracted to faster and smarter ways to pay and are using cash less and less often. The Global Wallet is an innovative new product that will appeal to consumers looking for an easy way to make everyday purchases, as well as better manage their money when travelling overseas. “The ability to load money into multiple currencies allows them to lock in favourable exchange rates and shop at more than 30 million merchant locations worldwide,” Mr Kalra said.
Virgin Australia has unveiled details on the interior re-design of its Boeing 777 fleet that will to appear across their fleet from 12 April 2012 with the entire fleet to be completed throughout this year. The redesign is mainly aesthetic with re-design of seat fabrics, carpets and curtain dividers, however seats in Business, Premium economy and Economy have been given improved to increase comfort as well as new fabrics and head rests. Virgin Australia Group Executive of Product and Guest Services, Martin Daley said the redesigned international fleet would deliver exceptional style and comfort for guests along with a fresh and ontemporary look and feel renowned across Virgin Australia domestic aircraft. “Virgin Australia’s cabin refresh of the Boeing 777 has been designed by experts in their fields. The redesign provides guests with a fresh interior, plus the comfort and style found across all our aircraft, whilst maintaining the service and inflight experience suited to all guests,” Mr Daley said. Virgin Australia’s Boeing 777 cabin refresh will feature: Newly designed custom fabric covers for Business, Premium Economy and Economy Seats Fabrics manufactured by world renowned fabric manufacturers Rohi, in Munich, Germany. All seat covers feature enhanced cushioning for extra comfort Newly designed Curtain dividers New carpet throughout cabin The Virgin Australia Boeing 777 cabin re-design has been led by the companies’ creative director Hans Hulsbosch and is inspired by the ceiling and flooring leaf designs found in Virgin Australia’s lounges
Virgin Australia launched its trial of airlines future in-flight entertainment system based on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, passengers lucky enough to be travelling in Business Class on select Boeing 737 and Embraer E90 flights will have the chance to trial the enhanced inflight experience the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will deliver. Virgin Australia Group Executive Product and Guest Services, Martin Daley, said the trial signalled the beginning of an enhanced inflight experience for guests. “The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has developed a reputation as a leader in the tablet space. This state of the art device will provide guests with a wide range of pre-loaded movies, television and audio programs, delivered with high resolution graphics and superb sound.” “It also represents a step closer to Phase Two of our in-flight entertainment plans, which is the roll-out of the leading Wi-Fi system developed by Lufthansa Systems, scheduled to take place later this year.” “This Wi-Fi system will allow guests to stream video and audio directly to their own personal electronic devices, Wi-Fi enabled laptops or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.” “This latest product release, combined with our new Business Class and Economy Class cabin environment, will allow us to offer a first-rate travel experience to guests”, Mr Daley said. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 device features include: The 16:9 screen aspect (which means that the Galaxy is one of the best devices to view movies); Excellent screen sharpness with 149 pixels per square inch; and Easy to hold, lightweight (565g) and slim design (8.6mm thick). The second instalment will begin in May 2012 with full commencement from June 2012 upon which Galaxy Tab 10.1’s will be offered to Flexi Fare guests travelling on flights over 3 hours, where available. In addition, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be offered to Economy guests for a fee for flights over 3 hours, subject to availability.
Virgin Australia will be adding additional surcharges to tickets in response to European and Australian Carbon Pricing schemes, which will see an average increased per sector of $3.00 for its domestic services, the domestic surcharge will be added to tickets purchased from 1 March 2012 for flights on or after 1 July 2012. Virgin Australia will use the following Zone/Distance Surcharge table to calculate the appropriate surcharge: Zone Dinstance KMs Surcharge AUD 1 1-900 Km $1.50 2 901-2000 Km $3.00 3 2001+ Km $6.0 For Virgin Australia code share services that operate into and out of Europe via codeshare partner Etihad a European surcharge will apply Therefore from 1 March 2012, there will be a surcharge of USD$3.00 per passenger for all Virgin Australia codeshare flights into and out of Europe, which will apply to flights on/after 1 March 2012. The surcharge is applicable on flights into and out of EU countries only and includes Athens, Brussels, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, London, Manchester, Munich and Paris Note these prices may change from time to time as the above prices are based on an estimated carbon usage and because carbon prices fluctuate
Today Virgin Australia announced that the Airline has select the Samsung GALAXY Tab for their future Inflight Entertainment IFE System on Boeing 737 and Embraer E190 aircraft, with the new IFE system being made available from April 2012 Group Executive Product and Guest Services, Martin Daley, said the Samsung GALAXY 10.1 featured high resolution graphics and superb sound to deliver an outstanding on-board entertainment experience. The GALAXY Tab is principally for Business Class guests and will be available to them on all sectors. Economy Class guests will have access to the GALAXY Tab on flights over three hours, responding to customer demand for comprehensive inflight entertainment on these longer sectors. “During this first phase, the GALAXY Tab 10.1 will be provided to guests pre-loaded with a range of movies, television and audio programs to keep guests entertained and informed.” Mr. Daley said that this state of the art device was the perfect choice to experience the next generation of inflight entertainment. “Phase II will see the roll-out of the leading edge Wi-Fi system developed by Lufthansa Systems. “In Phase II guests will have access to a wide range of products including video and audio streaming delivered on demand to their own personal electronic devices, Wi-Fi enabled laptops or the Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1.” Mr. Daley said the growing number of travellers carrying their own devices opens up the future possibilities for inflight entertainment. The Wi-Fi inflight entertainment system will allow Virgin Australia to remain at the forefront of technology that will include Ability to control and view content from personal electronic devices (PEDs) and Wi-Fi enabled laptops; Extensive range of movies, television and audio content; On demand controls to start, stop, rewind, fast forward and pause content; Selection of games for adults and children including arcade style games in future releases; and Service and Product information including destination/airport guides, travel offers and Velocity information in future releases. “Meanwhile, we are confident that our guests will find the GALAXY Tab 10.1 full of features which makes it the perfect companion for inflight entertainment,” Mr. Daley said. The Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1 inch device features include: The 16:9 screen aspect means that the GALAXY is the best device to view movies; Excellent screen sharpness with 149 pixels per square inch; Easy to hold and lightweight (565g) and slim design (8.6mm thick). The Virgin Australia IFE running on GALAXY Tab 10.1 will be provided to all Business Class guests, and will also be offered for rental by guests travelling in Economy on flights over three hours, subject to availability.
Virgin Australia today revealed the first phase of its inflight connectivity roadmap which will see the use of inflight Wi-Fi to deliver various inflight entertainment options to passenger’s Wi-Fi enabled laptops and personal hand-held devices. Martin Daley Group Executive for Product and Guest Services said that Virgin Australia new Inflight entertainment system known as BoardConnect will be produced and installed in collaboration with Lufthansa Systems. So we will we see BoardConnect on the first Virgin Australia aircraft? Martin Daley says we can expect the first systems to be installed by mid 2012. “This system, considered to be at the leading edge of inflight entertainment technology, provides guests with a wide range of products including video and audio streaming delivered on demand to personal entertainment devices or Wi-Fi enabled laptops. “Our new entertainment system will provide guests with more options than ever before to tailor their inflight entertainment experience to their personal tastes along with the freedom to choose how and when they access inflight entertainment. “This latest product release, combined with our new Business Class and Economy Class cabin environment, further enhances the inflight experience,” he said. Virgin Australia’s BoardConnect is expected to provide the following features to passengers: Ability to control and view content from personal entertainment devices (PEDs) and WiFi enabled laptops; Extensive range of movies, television and audio content; On demand controls to start, stop, rewind, fast forward and pause content; Selection of games for adults and children including arcade style games in future releases; and Service and Product information including destination / airport guides, travel offers and Velocity information in future releases. Which services will be the first to see the BoardConnect system? It’s a little too early to expect comment on which services will be the first to see the BoardConnect system, however our bets are on the longer domestic and international services, such as Sydney to Perth and Sydney to LAX
Virgin Australia today announced that the company has now officially started the rebranding of V Australia and Pacific Blue which will see these two airlines fly under the Virgin Australia brand and livery. The re-branding of the V Australia and Pacific Blue will see: New Virgin Australia signage at key international ports; New-look travel documents; One Guest Contact Centre number for both the domestic and international operations; and One consolidated Virgin Australia website for both the domestic and international operations. Virgin Australia group of airlines CEO John Borghetti said that having both the domestic and international airlines operating under the Virgin brand was one of the company’s most significant achievements this year. “The Virgin Australia name enables us to tap into the huge power of the Virgin brand around the world – a brand that signifies style, innovation, quality, value for money and the best service. “The new identity has been designed with a clean and contemporary look and feel that encapsulates our company’s repositioning as the airline of choice for all market segments. “Now that our international airlines are all operating under the Virgin brand, our focus is on redesigning the product in the air to ensure a first-rate travel experience across all of our airlines. We look forward to revealing the new designs in the first half of 2012”, Mr Borghetti said. Virgin Australia will be implementing directional signage and putting on extra Ground Crew to assist guests during the transition period. There will not be any changes to guest travel bookings as a result of the launch of the new brands. The Virgin Australia brand was launched back in May this year which saw Australian low cost carrier Virgin Blue transformed into a full service airline, by June the rebranded airline had introduced Business Class services on its Sydney to Perth service.
In the wake of the Qantas grounding Virgin Australia today sneakily introduced the sale of Business Class tickets on the Sydney-Brisbane Sydney-Melbourne & Melbourne-Brisbane services ahead of schedule. Virgin Australia Business Class flights on these routes will be available on all services from 18 January and will be operated primarily on their new or refitted Boeing 737 aircraft and in some instances with the airlines Airbus A330 aircraft that currently operates their Sydney Perth Business Class services. Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti said: “Following the successful introduction of Business Class on Virgin Australia trans-continental services, we are pleased to announce that Business Class on the Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane Triangle is available for sale today, ahead of schedule” “Our new Business Class product is a key part of our strategy to reposition Virgin Australia as the airline of choice for all market sectors. Providing an excellent product on the Triangle is a key priority for us, with routes such as Melbourne-Sydney among the busiest in the world. “In line with our commitment to providing excellent value, we will be offering the most competitively priced fares in the market, with fares starting from as little as $559.00 one way”, Mr Borghetti said. Business Class on Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737 has 8 seats with 38inch (95 cm) seat pitch in two rows and have a 2-2 seating config/layout. Business Class on the Airbus A330 has 27 60+ inch (150+ cm) seat pitch seats across 4 rows with a 2-2-2 seating configuration in the first row and 2-3-2 in the remaining business class rows. Virgin Australia Business Class tickets on these routes have been introduced at the following prices Route One Way Price Sydney-Brisbane $579 Melbourne-Sydney $559 Brisbane-Melbourne $885
Virgin Australia has confirmed it has held discussion with several if its partner airlines including Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Etihad and Delta Air Lines to see if they can in anyway help the Airline in assisting passengers that remain stranded due to the total grounding of Qantas domestic and International services. In addition Virgin Australia is offering passengers stranded by the Qantas grounding special Stranded Passenger recovery fares, which are a 20 discount on the regular Saver fares, however to be eligiable for these fares passengers must be stranded at a port other than their home port hold a Qantas ticket to return home in the next 5 days. Stranded Passenger fares can be booked via the following page: http://www.virginaustralia.com/qantasgrounding/ The full media release from Virgin Australia can be read below: VIRGIN AUSTRALIA ADDS SEATS TO ASSIST QANTAS PASSENGERS Virgin Australia has been working overnight to schedule additional services to assist affected Qantas passengers. The airline will use Virgin Australia aircraft to offer over 3,000 extra seats today between the ports of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Karratha and Perth. This is in addition to the 40,000 seats that Virgin Australia has recently added to its domestic network for travel between 14 October 2011 and 31 January 2012. At present, Virgin Australia has 140,000 seats available for sale on the domestic network through until Sunday 6 November 2011. The airline is also in discussions with alliance partners Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Delta Air Lines in regards to adding extra capacity. Current options being explored include: Operating Etihad Airways aircraft between Sydney and Melbourne and operating an Etihad Airways Boeing 777 between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, which will release a Virgin Australia Boeing 777 to operate between Los Angeles and Australia; Operating Singapore Airlines aircraft on key domestic routes; and Operating extra Air New Zealand aircraft on the trans-Tasman route in order to release Virgin Australia Boeing 737s for use domestically. Virgin Australia is offering special “Stranded Passenger” recovery fares for passengers who are currently at a port away from home and hold a Qantas ticket to return home within the next 5 days. The fares are offered at a 20 per cent discount to available “Saver” fares on Virgin Australia and Pacific Blue flights, for travel through to Thursday, 3 November 2011, subject to availability. They are available via a dedicated web page: http://www.virginaustralia.com/qantasgrounding/ A range of other measures are also being taken to ensure Virgin Australia is well-placed to assist affected passengers, with the airline increasing staffing levels at airports and contact centres thanks to hundreds of staff volunteering to work extra hours. Virgin Australia will provide further updates via media release and on our website: http://www.virginaustralia.com/servicedisruption/
Virgin Australia today announced that it would be putting on additional services to meet demand due to the cancellations of Qantas services because of industrial action. In total Virgin Australia has announced an additional 64 domestic services over the next two weeks, totaling around 9000 extra seats. Additional services will be available between 31 October and 13 November 2011 with the commitment that the airline will offer competitively priced fares. The airline will continue to review demand and provide more updates on capacity as necessary. Today’s announcement follows Virgin Australia’s confirmation last week that it was providing 3,000 additional seats per week up to 30 October 2011.