Virgin Australia (26-Apr-2012) unveiled new cabins on board its A330-200 aircraft which will be placed on domestic services between Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. The aircraft feature lie-flat business class seating in 2-2-2 configuration. The airline expects to receive the first two new aircraft from Airbus in Apr-2012 with a third later in 2012. Virgin Australia already operates two of the aircraft type. Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti stated the airline is "focused on becoming Australia’s airline of choice and key to that is creating a consistent experience of relaxation and comfort across all of our aircraft, complemented by the best of service". [more - original PR]
Virgin Australia unveils new cabins on board A330-200 equipment
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Virgin Australia realigns its airline partnership priorities on new long haul strategy: Part 2
As Virgin Australia's unique accumulation of airline shareholders on its registry evolves, some of the longer term outlines of the Australian airline's strategy are unfolding. Air New Zealand is withdrawing as an equity owner, although the future nature of its partnership with Virgin has yet to coalesce. HNA Group, with its subsidiaries Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines is now on the register, along with the Nanshan Group, while Etihad and Singapore Airlines remain as substantial minority owners.
Part 1 of this report reviewed some of these issues in the context of Virgin Australia's international route plans.
Part 2 reviews the actual changes planned, as they relate to Virgin's US and Abu Dhabi routes and sets out why a greater emphasis on US routes is desirable for the short term, while a full picture becomes available for the more risky Chinese market.
Virgin Australia realigns its airline partnership priorities on new long haul strategy: Part 1
There have recently been important shifts in Virgin Australia's partnership relations, as Air New Zealand withdraws its ownership and the roles of Singapore Airlines and Etihad evolve with HNA becoming a substantial shareholder. As a consequence, Virgin is restructuring its long haul network for the first time in over two years. Individual changes are not significant, but they help tie up loose ends in Virgin's strategy. Virgin and its US JV partner Delta have been static since United and Qantas-American Airlines greatly altered the Australia-US market profile, a route which constitutes most of Virgin's long haul network.
Virgin struggled to find a use for what was essentially leftover aircraft capacity that it allocated to Sydney-Abu Dhabi as part of a JV with Etihad. With a limited fleet, North America beckoning, and Etihad seemingly losing some lustre since a Virgin-Singapore Airlines partnership, Virgin is having to cut Sydney-Abu Dhabi to free up capacity to relaunch Melbourne-Los Angeles.
Virgin will still commit to its Etihad partnership by adding three weekly Perth-Abu Dhabi flights on the A330-200, which will finally be moved out of the domestic market and deployed long haul. Since the end of the West Australian mining boom, these well equipped aircraft are no longer needed on transcontinental domestic service. Virgin's fleet of five 777-300ERs now will exclusively be used on Los Angeles.