Thursday 18 September 2008




Virgin Blue Group of Airlines has reinforced its commitment to its New World Carrier strategy, today unveiling a suite of new product enhancements for the business market including its lie flat International Business Class beds and snazzy in-flight “V Bars” for V Australia and a new “The Lounge” facility at Sydney T2 domestic terminal.

New South Wales Premier, The Hon. Morris Iemma, attended the opening of “The Lounge” facility and also used the opportunity to join with Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, to announce the establishment of a Virgin Blue jet crew base in Sydney. The creation of the base will generate up to 1000 aviation jobs on top of the 1000 jobs announced earlier this year with the opening of V Australia’s operational base in Sydney.

The establishment of the base will include a Cabin Crew and Flight Crew training facility for V Australia and Virgin Blue Sydney-based crew. Virgin Blue intends to have 450 team members working from the base by the end of the year, including Cabin Crew, Pilots and Licensed Engineers. Projected growth figures have that number almost doubling to approximately 1000 Virgin Blue team members within five years. They will be based at Virgin Blue/V Australia’s new training centre at Botany.

Virgin Blue recently opened its B777-300ER simulator at Silverwater in Sydney for training V Australia pilots. The airline has confirmed it will further invest in Sydney-based cabin crew training infrastructure, with the inclusion of Boeing 737-800 and EMBRAER crew training devices at the Botany base.

The jet crew base represents a significant expansion for Virgin Blue operations in Sydney and comes off the back of the recent launch of new regional flights from Sydney to Port Macquarie and Albury, as well as the launch of Capital Jet services on the Sydney-Canberra route.

The airline Group is also investing in product enhancements and infrastructure for the benefit of Guests, throwing a “Lounge warming” party today for its bigger and better The Lounge at Sydney T2 domestic terminal, after it outgrew the previous facility which had a maximum capacity of 140 Guests.

In a multi-million dollar refurbishment, Virgin Blue has taken over 1815 square metres of the former Ansett Golden Wing Lounge. The space has been transformed into Virgin Blue’s flagship Australian The Lounge in the country, with comfortable capacity for 400 Guests.

Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said, “Virgin Blue is serious about being a viable business travel option for Australia’s corporate sector and this is demonstrated in our ongoing efforts to pre-empt the “highly desirables” for this market. We anticipated we would outgrow our smaller The Lounge facility and have had a long term plan to build Virgin Blue’s state-of-the-art flagship lounge at our busiest airport in the country.”

Since the launch of its New World Carrier strategy three years ago, Virgin Blue has progressively expanded its suite of business-friendly products and services, including the recent introduction of Premium Economy seating.

Brett Godfrey continued, “Our new Lounge is a bolder version and reflects the evolution of Virgin Blue as we continuously grow our product to better service the corporate market. It has more meeting rooms, a larger business zone as well as a larger bar area and more seating areas.”

Guests will be able to access The Lounge from the departure/arrivals concourse via lift, escalator and stairs.

Virgin Blue offers The Lounge facilities in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney and is currently reviewing opportunities to open new The Lounge facilities in other Virgin Blue ports across Australia.

During The Lounge warming party, Virgin Blue also unveiled demonstration models of V Australia’s lie flat seats which will offer a comfortable lie flat bed, complete with cosy in-flight “sleep suit”. The airline also showed off the in-flight “V Bar”, which will feature in both International Business and International Premium Economy cabins.

Brett Godfrey said, “V Australia is a contemporary and premium quality three class long haul airline and we developed the product specifically to provide an edgy trans-Pacific travel option. V Australia will offer lie-flat beds on the trans-Pacific route and two in-flight bars for Guests to mingle.”

V Australia remains on track for the scheduled December take-off of its first Sydney-Los Angeles flight*, with crew training underway, the first 777-300ER aircraft nearly complete at Boeing’s Seattle manufacturing facility and construction work starting shortly at Los Angeles International Airport.

Brett Godfrey added, “These are both challenging and exciting times for the Virgin Blue Group as we prepare to launch Australia’s newest international airline, expand our Virgin Blue domestic route network and provide a high quality, fiercely competitive and affordable airline to Australian and US travellers. Aviation is without doubt a volatile industry but as Virgin Blue has proven, it is also one that presents a great opportunity to revolutionise and revitalise travel and we relish the opportunity to do it all over again with V Australia.”

Multi award winning airline Virgin Blue and international carriers Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue currently operate a fleet of 72 modern Boeing 737 and Embraer E-Jet aircraft flying to 25 Australian and eight international destinations including New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands. Virgin Blue Group has also announced plans to launch Australia's newest international airline, V Australia, set to commence flights between Australia and the USA from December 2008.

* V Australia flights are subject to regulatory approval

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