Virgin Australia (VA) has nearly completed the roll out of its business class product across its domestic network since initiating the launch in January.
Alexandra O’Connor, head of industry sales, told Business Traveller on the sidelines of the high-end luxury travel show Luxperience, debuting in Sydney, that once retrofitting was done on all Embraer 190s in the carrier’s fleet by early 2013, the project would be officially done. She added that over 50 per cent of VA’s planes already sported the new livery.
Formerly Virgin Blue Airlines and a low-cost operation – founded by tycoon Richard Branson and former Virgin Blue chief executive officer Brett Godfrey – VA found itself catapulted to the role of Australia’s second-largest airline following the collapse of Ansett Australia in 2001.
The ensuing years have witnessed VA’s evolution from a no-frills airline to a full-service carrier, competing with Qantas in the business travel arena. In May 2011, a full-scale expansion programme (click here and here) and a refreshed image of VA was announced.
Business Class on VA’s B737
The overhaul has also included ground enhancements, particularly VA’s airport lounges. O’Connor said the airline had new facilities in Brisbane, Mackay (along the eastern coast of Queensland) and Gold Coast as well as improved offerings in Perth and Adelaide. The flagship lounge in Sydney is due to be unveiled in a few months, while Canberra and Hobart are expecting to receive completely new lounges.
The Gold Coast Lounge interior
Improvements at Sydney Domestic Airport T2 will see the carrier increasing its dedicated piers from nine to 14 gates (some equipped to take wide-bodied aircraft). More onboard innovations will come from Lufthansa Systems, which is designing a wifi service to enable VA customers to stream video and audio directly to their personal electronic devices.
VA also boasts long-haul services, among them: Sydney-Los Angeles, Brisbane-Los Angeles and Sydney-Abu Dhabi, plus 400 more destinations through alliances with Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Delta.
Margie T Logarta