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7JetSet7 Code: VAZ
Status: Currently Not Operational
Employees 1777
Web: vaustralia.com.au
Email: info@vaustralia.com.au
Telephone: +61 7 3295 3000
Fax: +61 7 3839 4024

Click below for data links:

Formed in 2007 and started operations in 2008. Formerly "V Australia." Regional & international, scheduled & charter, passenger & cargo jet airplane services.

PO Box 1034
131 Barry Parade
Spring Hill, Queensland 4004, Australia


March 2007: Virgin Blue (VOZ) Holdings confirmed its order for six 777-300ERs with options for six more, and will lease one additional 777-300ER from ILFC (ILF). The order for the six is worth $1.5 billion at list prices. The airplane will be used to establish a new long-haul airline next year, "V Australia (VAZ)," providing service from Australia to the USA "and other destinations." Virgin Blue (VOZ)'s order takes total orders for 777s to 924 from 49 carriers. It also exercised options on five 737-800s worth $350 million at list prices. (VOZ) currently operates 53 737NGs.

May 2007: Virgin Blue (VOZ) takes delivery of the first of seven 777-300ERs in September 2008 (for V Australia (VAZ)).

July 2007: Virgin Blue (VOZ) announced the A$61 million/$53.1 million purchase of a "campus-style" development in Brisbane to serve as its new national headquarters. The development is scheduled to be completed next March.

(VOZ) filed an application with the USA Department of Transportation to operate 10 weekly Australia to USA flights beginning in November 2008, which would put it in direct competition with rival Qantas (QAN) on lucrative transpacific routes. (VOZ) applied for the traffic rights under the name "Virgin Blue International Airlines (VAZ)," a subsidiary of the (VOZ) group of companies, but said it will choose a new name ("V Australia (VAZ)") for its future transpacific operations prior to launch. It also is seeking an Australian operating certificate for (VAZ), which is expected to be granted. It plans to operate the service aboard 777-300ERs. The first airplane will be named "Didgeree Blue." (VAZ) will bring to the USA a sophisticated business model, which will provide a service offering, capable of stimulating demand across the whole market, an aspiration fully consistent with the aspirations of both governments," (VOZ) said in its application. It estimated that demand for Australia to USA flights exceeds >1.8 million passengers annually with +5.1% average growth per year expected. Currently, only (QAN) and United Airlines (UAL) operate flights between the nations. Singapore Airlines (SIA) repeatedly has asked the Australian government for permission to operate from Melbourne and/or Sydney to Los Angeles, but has been rejected.

The livery of "V Australia (VAZ)" was also unveiled , keeping in touch with its (VOZ) roots, but revealing a contemporary look which will launch a new era of competition on the Trans Pacific route. (VAZ) will sport a smart silver fuselage with a red tail featuring the stars of the Southern Cross and elements of the Australian flag - see photo.

(VOZ) exercised options on 10 737-800 purchase rights worth $678.5 million at list prices. The new airplanes will replace existing leased airplanes and are scheduled for delivery in the December 2011 to February 2013 period.

December 2007: Amadeus will provide Virgin Blue (VOZ) with distribution, e-ticketing and interline solutions, that work alongside the carrier's existing passenger services system, "Navitaire's OpenSkies," while in addition, "V Australia (VAZ)" (VOZ)'s new long-haul airline, will adopt the Amadeus Altea Customer Management System. The standalone solutions for the company's short-haul operations, will manage connectivity on behalf of (VOZ)'s interline and Global Distribution System (GDS) partners. They also will process incoming e-ticket coupons from interline partners, enabling (VOZ) to receive passengers from full-service carriers such as Etihad (EHD) and Virgin Atlantic (VAA). The connectivity will serve as a "distribution hub" for (VOZ); Pacific Blue (PBI), its New Zealand-based subsidiary airline, that serves several points in the South Pacific, and Polynesian Blue (PLY), a joint venture with the Samoan government, that links Samoa to New Zealand and Australia.

(VAZ), which expects to receive approval from the USA and Australian governments to launch flights between the east coast of Australia and the west coast of the USA in 2008, will use the full Altea suite for sales and reservations, inventory and departure control operations. The airline (VAU) will also use Amadeus e-Retail and e-Merchandise solutions for online sales.

In May 2006, (VOZ) signed an agreement with Cendant Travel Distribution Services, the predecessor company to Travelport Limited, to be among the launch customers of aiRES, a new passenger services system, that would replace "OpenSkies." The migration has yet to occur, however, and (VOZ) continues to use "OpenSkies."

Amadeus said the solutions it is providing to (VOZ) will complement, not replace, the carrier's passenger services system.

February 2008: The USA and Australia announced an "open skies" agreement in Washington at the conclusion of three days of negotiations. Australia becomes the USA's 90th "open skies" partner. The deal was not signed formally and no schedule was announced. The number of airlines from either country that can serve the other, once the agreement becomes effective, will be unlimited, as will the number of flights permitted. Restrictions on pricing, code sharing and charters also were removed. Limitations on cargo services were removed in 1999, the USA Department of Transportation said. Australian carriers were quick to laud the accord. Qantas (QAN) CEO, Geoff Dixon said (QAN) had supported the Australian government's efforts to secure "open skies" with the USA and the agreement "brings new opportunities for growth and competition. Importantly, it will assist the further development of Australia's aviation industry, as well as help increase trade and tourism with a major economic partner." (QAN) operates 48 weekly flights on the transpacific route, increasing to 51 next month. Virgin Blue (VOZ) CEO, Brett Godfrey, whose carrier is preparing to launch its V Australia (VAZ) long-haul subsidiary, and will take delivery of the first of 14 777-300ERs this fall, called the deal "a great achievement, and a significant change after almost twenty years of restrictive bilaterals." He would not reveal (VAZ)'s USA destinations.

April 2008: V Australia (VAZ), the long-haul international arm of Virgin Blue (VOZ), announced that it will launch daily, Sydney - Los Angeles (LAX) on December 15. It offered 1,000 fares at A$999/$916, including taxes to celebrate the launch that were snapped up in minutes. Its standard economy (Y) return fare is A$1,899, which it claims is -16% lower than the current lowest available published fare. (VAZ)'s 777-300ERs will be fitted with a three-class configuration, including a business (C) cabin with lie-flat seats. Premium economy will feature a 2-4-2 layout with 38-inch seat pitch, while economy will be 3-3-3. The carrier's premium fares also are well below those of Qantas (QAN), it claimed. Sydney - (LAX) starts at A$10,000, more than >A$3,000 less than (QAN)'s retail business class (C) fare. Its premium economy return fare starts at A$4,200. Its in-flight product includes AVOD and complimentary meals, wines, laptop power, USB ports, and SMS/text capability from mobile phones. AeroMobile and Panasonic Avionics Corp will provide BlackBerry and Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) technology. (VAZ) is expected to announce two additional destinations within two weeks. It also announced an interlining agreement with Northwest Airlines (NWA) that will take effect with (VAZ)'s first flight. (NWA) VP Alliances, Nat Pieper called it "the first phase" of the airlines' cooperation.

Regarding the "Open Skies" bilateral agreement between Australia and the USA, please read the attached - "VAZ-AUS-USA-2008-04."

(SIA) Engineering signed a five-year fleet management program agreement with (VAZ) for maintenance of seven 777-300ERs. The contract is valued at S$90 million/$66.4 million and calls for transit and light maintenance checks, defect rectification, cabin maintenance, spares support, component repair and overhaul, and logistics management. Work will take place in Brisbane, Sydney, and Los Angeles.

July 2008: V Australia (VAZ), the international arm of Virgin Blue (VOZ), announced that Brisbane - Los Angeles (LAX) will be its second route. The service will start March 1, 2009 with a 777-300ER. It will launch operations December 15 with daily Sydney - (LAX).

August 2008: Virgin Blue (VOZ) Holdings blamed soaring fuel prices and one-off product enhancement costs for its -54.7% drop in net profit to +A$97.7 million/+$85.1 million for the fiscal year ended June 30. The result was slightly ahead of market expectations, but management advised that the year ahead will be tough, although it still expects a positive result. The underlying net profit was +A$140.5 million, but the costs associated with the launch of V Australia (VAZ), domestic services in New Zealand, the introduction of Embraer jet airplanes, expansion of "The Lounge" product and launch of Premium Economy in Australia absorbed A$42.8 million.

Revenue increased +8.4% year-over-year to A$2.35 billion, with yield rising +0.2% to 11.59 cents. Capacity was ahead +7.9% to 23.3 billion (ASK)s, while (RPK)s grew +6.8% to 18.8 billion. Load factor slipped -0.7 point to 80.5% LF, and passenger numbers climbed +9.2% to 16.7 million. Operating costs jumped +18.5% to A$2.18 billion, reflecting the surge in fuel prices, with (VOZ)'s average price per barrel rising +17%. Unit cost subsequently climbed +6.1% to 9.05 cents.

CEO, Brett Godfrey told media in Sydney: "With fuel costs at never before seen record highs for much of the year, and airlines around the world struggling to cope, this result is a testament to our team and business model." He added that (VOZ) has "implemented a range of measures in recent months to mitigate the impact of increased fuel costs and we will continue to closely monitor the operating environment, and take whatever actions are necessary to see our way through what is expected to be a challenging period." In light of the difficult trading condition, the company scrapped its final dividend payment for Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 and (FY) 2009 dividends are in doubt. Godfrey said V Australia (VAZ) remains on track for a December launch. (VOZ) plans to invest a further A$55 to A$65 million in the operation, in line with previous guidance.

The training of pilots (FC) is continuing at (VAZ)’s Silverwater Training Centre, where the new $14-million 777-300ER simulator is being used around the clock for pilot (FC) endorsement training. While recruiting for the initial group of pilots (FC) has almost been completed, (VAZ) is continuing its recruitment efforts in preparation for the arrival of additional airplanes in 2009. Applications for both Cabin Crew (CA) and Pilot (FC) roles within (VAZ) can be directed to: http://www.vaustralia.com.au.

September 2008: Virgin Blue (VOZ) will expand its Sydney training center and build a maintenance base in a move that is expected to create almost +1,000 jobs. It will add 737-800 and EMB-170 simulators to its recently opened V Australia (VAZ) training facility at Botany Bay, which already has a 777-300ER. (VOZ) also announced that the first (VAZ) 777-300ER due for delivery in November, will feature lie-flat beds and two bars.

Frustrated by its inability to process travel agency sales through (IATA) (ITA)'s billing and settlement plans (BSP)s, (VAZ) launched its own travel agent payment and settlement system. (ITA) barred the carrier from using the (BSP)s until it acquires its own air operating certificate (AOC). (VAZ) had sought to gain access to the system under parent carrier (VOZ)'s certificate (AOC). (VAZ) is slated to launch Sydney - Los Angeles service on December 15. It has been selling tickets via direct channels since March.

The new (VAZ) Settlement Plan (VSP), was created in partnership with eNett International and in cooperation with the Global Distribution Systems (GDS) companies. Melbourne, Australia-based e-Nett is a travel payment specialist founded in 2004. The company is owned by UK-based PSP International Plc. The (VSP) will enable travel agents in Australia and New Zealand to book and ticket (VAZ) flights from within the major (GDS)s and settle payments directly with the carrier. It will enable next-day visibility of ticket sales through a dedicated portal.

Sales by travel agents in the USA are processed through the Airlines Reporting Corp, which does not bar (VAZ)'s participation.

In a statement, Brett Godfrey, CEO of (VOZ), said, "We had initially intended to work through (ITA) (BSP), however, as access was not available in the time frame we required, we preferred to develop an independent solution."

According to eNett, the (VSP) solution facilitates credit card and cash settlement capabilities and offers additional collection and exchange functionality, including agency debit and credit memos and refund processing, with dynamic reporting of all (VAZ) payment activity at both an individual agency and travel agency group level. (VSP) will be made available to all (ITA) and Travel Industry Designator Service travel agents in Australia and New Zealand.

October 2008: The ongoing Boeing (TBC) machinists strike has forced Australia's Virgin Blue (VOZ) to postpone the launch of its V Australia (VAZ) transpacific service between Sydney (SYD) and Los Angeles (LAX) planned for December 15. (TBC) has informed customers that it cannot predict the duration of the nearly month-old strike by 27,000 members of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and Aerospace Workers and therefore cannot guarantee delivery of (VAZ)'s first 777-300ER. Three 777-300ERs destined for the startup are close to completion with one already painted. That airplane cannot be delivered, however, because its galleys are running late and need to be fitted, which only can be done by machinists.

(VOZ) advised the Australian Stock Exchange that the only responsible course of action was to introduce a revised launch date for (VAZ)'s (SYD) - (LAX) service of February 28, 2009. The March 1 start of Brisbane - (LAX) flights will not be affected, it said. (VAZ) will be contacting all passengers booked to travel over the Christmas/New Year period to offer alternative arrangements and has suspended sales for the December 15 - February 28 period. (VAZ) is offering three options: Rebooking after March 1 with a A$200 travel credit on (VOZ)'s domestic network, a full refund or an alternative flight on a competing carrier at (VOZ)'s expense. Booking on another airline will be costly, as the return promotional fares started at just A$999, well under the published one-way fare on Qantas (QAN) of A$2,321/$1,844 for travel on December 15.

December 2008: V Australia (VAZ) confirmed a launch date of February 27 for its first 777-300ER service, a thrice-weekly, Sydney (SYD) - Los Angeles (LAX) flight that will go to daily on March 20. Originally scheduled to begin flying this month, (VAZ) postponed launch due to the Boeing (TBC) machinists strike. It will take delivery of its first airplane on Australia Day (January 26), with arrival in Sydney scheduled for February 9, after a special cabin fit-out. It announced return fares as low as A$1,199, up to -45% off the normal economy (Y) fare between (SYD) and (LAX). Brisbane - (LAX) flights begin April 8.

January 2009: Domestic airfares in Australia have plummeted -30% in a year to the lowest point in 17 years, according to data released by the government's Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE). While the lowest fares fell dramatically, domestic business class (C) fares eased just -1% but are expected to decline more significantly in the coming months as the economy continues to slow and business confidence sinks to its lowest level since surveys were launched in 1998. An Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) investor confidence survey found that expectations for early 2009 were even worse than 2008. (ACCI) said business conditions and sales were at their lowest levels since 1998 when the survey began and profitability was at its lowest level in seven years. The (BITRE) Domestic Air Fare Index is not expressed in actual fares but as an index. The January 2008 index of 56.1 is almost half that of January 1993.

Fares also are expected to nosedive on international routes from February, with some Australia-based airline executives describing forward bookings as "extremely weak." On the Pacific, V Australia (VAZ) is due to launch 777-300ER service on February 27 with fares starting at A$1,199/$827.65 return. Delta Air Lines (DAL) will launch Atlanta - Los Angeles - Sydney flights on July 1. On shorter-range routes, both Tiger Airways (TGR)/(TAU) and AirAsia X (ASX) are offering significant discounts, with a A$206 one-way Melbourne - Singapore fare and a A$199 one-way ticket to Kuala Lumpur from Melbourne and Perth.

1 777-3ZGER (35302, VH-VOZ), (ILF) leased, and 777-3ZGER (37938, VH-VPD), delivery.

February 2009: Virgin Blue Holdings blamed a one-off charge associated with establishment of its V Australia (VAZ) subsidiary and its fuel hedges for a net loss of -A$101.4 million/-$65.3 million in the six months ended December 31 compared to a +A$113.3 million profit in the year-ago semester. The loss was in line with market expectations and due almost entirely to -A$80.8 million in hedging losses and a nonrecurring A$60 million charge related to (VAZ). It occurred despite a +11.5% year-over-year increase in revenue to A$1.35 billion and a +13.2% rise in passenger numbers to 9.2 million. Operating costs jumped +30% to $1.35 billion due mainly to a +50% surge in fuel expense to A$400 million.

CEO, Brett Godfrey was upbeat on the airline's operations, highlighting an operating profit of +A$60 million. "Our underlying business is robust and we have identified savings of -A$90 million and we expect Virgin Blue (VOZ) itself to break even this year," he said. (VOZ) also announced a salary cut of -30% for executives, a hiring freeze and a -10% pay cut for board members. It unveiled a -8% capacity reduction. Godfrey emphasized that it had cleared its books, faced no refinancing obligations or covenant issues of its existing facilities and that its fleet of six 777-300ERs that will fly for (VAZ) is financed. He also noted that (VAZ)/(VOZ) is cashed up with "reserves of over >A$500 million" and has identified A$150 million in possible asset sales.

(VOZ)'s six-month traffic rose +12% to 10.5 billion (RPK)s against a +16.1% climb in (ASK)s to 13.1 billion. Load factor fell -3 points to 80.2% LF. Yield was down -4% to A10.27 cents but underlying unit costs excluding fuel fell -1.2% to A6.55 cents.

Earlier this month, Virgin Group President, Richard Branson said that (VOZ) "didn't need to go to the markets for cash" like Qantas (QAN) did. Its exposure to currency hedges will decline significantly from 74% cover to 35% for the 2009 to 2010 fiscal year. Godfrey expects domestic operations to break even this financial year.

Virgin Group President, Sir Richard Branson was upbeat at the Seattle delivery ceremony as (VAZ) took delivery of the first of seven 777-300ERs and dismissed naysayers who warned of starting an airline in difficult times. "We have one of the world's strongest brands. Sure, if you launch when the economy is booming you're going to get to profit quicker than when you're launching in probably the worst recession since 1929," he said, adding that, (VAZ) parent, Virgin Blue (VOZ) did not need to go to the markets for capital as Qantas (QAN) did. "We just don't need it," he said.

(VAZ)'s transpacific operation is scheduled to launch February 27 with Sydney (SYD) - Los Angeles (LAX) nonstop service. Flights to (LAX) from Brisbane will begin April 8 and from Melbourne on September 15. The airplane seats 361 across three classes.

(VAZ) is taking on (QAN)'s new A380s and United Airlines (UAL) over the Pacific, while Delta Air Lines will start (LAX) - (SYD) flights on July 1. Branson claimed passengers will choose (VAZ) for both its fares and its product. "We have the best cabins, most enthusiastic staff and flying will be really fun," he promised. Forward bookings are strong, with flights for the next two months 65% full and loads in July already at 45%.

Branson said that despite the current downturn, he is happy with the airline's position and that start-up costs of A$65 million/$43.8 million are as expected. But he warned that (VAZ) may have to stimulate the market "a bit more than we thought" and that fares likely will remain low "for most of the year," with a number of promotions planned to stimulate travel in quieter times. "We were planning for lower load factors," he said. "But yes, our entry will spark a price war."

The carrier's 777-3ZGER is configured with 35 business class (C) beds, 40 premium economy and 288 economy (Y) seats. (VAZ) has up to 15 orders and options.

777-3ZGER (37939, VH-VPE), delivery.

March 2009: V Australia (VAZ) operated its inaugural flight, a Sydney - Los Angeles (LAX) service that departed at 3 p.m. local time aboard a 777-300ER. The thrice-weekly flights will become daily on March 20. (VAZ) also will fly to (LAX) from Melbourne and said it "has set its sights" on serving South Africa.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) and (VAZ) signed an interline agreement covering each carrier's transpacific flights and remaining networks. (DAL)'s Los Angeles - Sydney service begins July 1. (VAZ) signed an interline agreement with (NWA) last year.

Lufthansa (DLH) Systems said (VAZ) selected its Lido RouteManual, Lido FMS Navigation Database Service and Lido eAPM solutions.

April 2009: V Australia (VAZ) launched its second route, a thrice-weekly, Brisbane - Los Angeles service, aboard a 777-300ER.

Virgin Blue (VOZ) delayed the delivery of two 361-seat 777-300ERs for its (VAZ) operation because of the slowdown in air travel. The fifth and sixth 777-300ERs have been rescheduled from 2010 to 2011 and 2012. In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, (VOZ) said it still planned to take the "seventh" 777 in the second half of 2010. (VAZ) has three 777-300ERs in service operating from Brisbane and Sydney to Los Angeles and it expects to start Sydney - Perth - Johannesburg service this year. (VOZ) advised that "the extension of the delivery schedule for (VAZ)'s new airplanes was a prudent action in the current operating environment." At the same time, it ordered five more 180-seat 737-800s to replace leased airplanes.

June 2009: Virgin America (VUS) and V Australia (VAZ) reached an interline agreement effective June 8. It is (VUS)'s first interline relationship. The airlines both serve Los Angeles.

August 2009: V Australia (VAZ), the long-haul subsidiary of Brisbane-based Virgin Blue (VOZ), announced a major expansion of its route network focused around Melbourne (MEL) and Brisbane. It will launch twice-weekly, Brisbane - Phuket service on November 22, followed by weekly (MEL) - Phuket on December 3. It will commence twice-weekly (MEL) - Johannesburg flights on March 13. It currently operates three 777-300ERs between Sydney and Brisbane and Los Angeles (LAX) and will add a (MEL) - (LAX) service on December 1. It is due to take its fourth 777-300ER by early October, will add a fifth in September 2010 and has another two on order plus eight options. Virgin Blue Group CEO, Brett Godfrey said that the new routes were made possible by the additional airplanes plus some "slight rearranging of the exiting schedules." (VAZ) also has applied for capacity to Fiji.

August 2009: Virgin Blue Holdings blamed the tough operating environment, one-off charges and nonrecurring costs for a -A$160 million/-$133.2 million loss in the fiscal year ended June 30, Virgin Blue Airlines' worst-ever result and a reversal from the +A$97.7 million surplus reported the prior year. The loss occurred despite a +12.8% lift in revenue to A$2.63 billion. Last month, (VOZ) announced a A$231 million capital raising and said it expected a full-year loss of approximately -A$165 million. At that time, (VOZ) highlighted the one-time costs associated with the launch of its V Australia (VAZ) subsidiary.

(VOZ) said the long-haul arm (VAZ) suffered an operating loss of -A$64 million through its first four months and the segment contributed a -A$124 million loss when one-time costs were added.

Group airlines flew 21.8 billion (RPK)s traffic during the year, up +16%, against a +19.3% rise in capacity to 27.8 billion (ASK)s. Load factor fell -0.6 point to 79.1% LF. Yield was down -5.3% to 10.84 Australian cents and unit cost excluding fuel eased 4% to 6.53 Australian cents. It expects a break-even result in the current fiscal year.

Australia and New Zealand are expected to move toward common air travel borders this month, cutting red tape and airfares.
New Zealand Prime Minister, John Keys and Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd are expected to announce the streamlining of arrivals and departures that may see trans-Tasman flights operating from domestic terminals and elimination of departure taxes and duplication of quarantine, customs and security checks.

The changes are expected to boost tourism between the two countries, which already see approximately 1 million visitors cross the Tasman each year in both directions. Under the proposals, passengers leaving Australia for New Zealand would not pay the A$47/$39.10 passenger movement charge and the countries would recognize each other's security, immigration and quarantine checks in a similar way to members of the European Union (EU).

September 2009: Emirates (EAD) and V Australia (VAZ) reached a code share agreement under which (VAZ) will place its code on (EAD)'s flights from Sydney to Christchurch and Auckland. It is (VAZ)'s first code share deal outside the Virgin Blue Group.

(ILFC) (ILF) announced a lease deal of one new 777-3ZGER (37940, VH-VPF) to V Australia (VAZ) for 148 months.

November 2009: V Australia (VAZ) is understood to be close to announcing an order for 777-200LRs for new nonstop Sydney - New York (JFK), and Perth - London Heathrow (LHR) service beginning in 2011. CEO, Brett Godfrey is in the final stages of negotiations with Boeing (TBC) for an order of up to 70 airplanes that will include six 300-seat, 777-200LRs, 737-800s and 737-900ERs for fleet replacement and expansion.

In February, on the delivery of (VAZ)'s first 361-seat 777-300ER, Godfrey and Virgin Group Chairman, Richard Branson, (VAZ)'s largest shareholder, discussed major hub plans for Australia, including the use of Perth for routes to the UK and South Africa.

Melbourne - Johannesburg starts in March.

(VAZ) has four 777-300ERs in service and a further three on order with seven options. In April, it delayed two 777-300ERs because of the slowdown in air travel, with the fifth and sixth pushed back from 2010 to 2011 and 2012. Virgin Atlantic Airways (VAA) had planned to launch (LHR) - Perth flights with 270-seat 787-9s in 2014, but the airplanes are now more than two years late.

Depressed airplane prices are affording Virgin Blue (VOZ) an opportunity to fast-track expansion plans and tap into a resurgence in Australia's resource sector. In September, (VOZ) announced it was buying another 50 737s to update and expand its regional short-haul fleet but it is now understood from Brisbane-based sources that the total purchase will be for 70 airplanes and possibly may include 787s as well. Godfrey said at the time that it was "a great time to buy" and that "we don't want to miss the opportunity."

Over the past six months, the global Virgin group of airlines has been working to improve synergies to offer passengers around-the-world fares and seamless transfers between the constituent carriers.

November 2009: Virgin Blue (VOZ)’s lower-cost Pacific Blue (PBI) unit is now flying 737-800s from Perth to Phuket, Thailand, twice weekly, joining existing Perth flights to Bali in Indonesia. Next month, (VOZ)’s long haul unit V Australia (VAZ) will launch Phuket service from Brisbane and Melbourne.

December 2009: Delta Air Lines (DAL) said the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission granted authorization for its proposed joint venture (JV) with Virgin Blue (VOZ) to operate flights between Australia and the USA. "(DAL) and [(VOZ) subsidiary] V Australia (VAZ) are eager to move forward with their (JV) and to bring new services to the market," (DAL) said. "We look forward to a similar decision from the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) and urge the (DOT) to quickly conclude its review."

Delta Air Lines (DAL) and Virgin Blue (VOZ)/V Australia (VAZ) will commence code share flights next month as part of the partnership that gained approval from Australian competition authorities. (VOZ)/(VAZ) will place its code on (DAL) flights from Los Angeles to Cincinnati, New York (JFK), Orlando International and Salt Lake City beginning January 18, and (DAL) will code share on (VOZ) service from Sydney to Brisbane and Melbourne from February 15. The airlines also will offer reciprocal airport lounge and loyalty program benefits. The USA Department of Transportation has approved the code share and is reviewing the application for antitrust immunity.

March 2010: In a clear sign that it is moving its product offering up-market, Virgin Blue (VOZ) confirmed widespread speculation and appointed former Qantas (QAN) Executive General Manager, John Borghetti, 54, to take the reins from retiring founder & CEO, Brett Godfrey.

Borghetti, who will take over in May, would not discuss his plans, but it is widely believed he will endorse a plan to buy 777-200LRs for the group's V Australia (VAZ) subsidiary in order to launch nonstop, Perth - London Heathrow (LHR), and Sydney - (SYD) New York (JFK) service. (LHR) - (SYD) also is a possibility.

Qantas (QAN) examined the concept in 2005 but decided against it since the airplane would have been a new model in its fleet. (VAZ), however, is a 777-300ER operator, has six options to exercise and could take delivery of a 777-200LR next year.

One analyst said that the ultra-long-range concept would be a "perfect fit" for Borghetti and Virgin Blue (VOZ). "Non-stops are what Australian business (C) traffic wants and Qantas (QAN) will not be able to match V Australia (VAZ). It will give them a clear point of difference going forward," the Sydney-based analyst said.

Virgin Group Chairman, Richard Branson, who is (VOZ)'s largest shareholder, has said that he has "serious interest" in operating non-stop between (LHR) and Perth, and that the service almost certainly would be a joint V Australia (VAZ)/Virgin Atlantic Airways (VAA) flight.

At Qantas (QAN), Borghetti developed one of the world's best domestic economy (Y) products and it is expected that he will reshape (VOZ)'s domestic offering with an upgraded and dedicated premium economy aimed at the corporate market as the airline strives to capture more high-yield traffic. He resigned from (QAN) last May.

According to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation Chairman, Peter Harbison, "Yield management is an art and [Borghetti] is an artist. Borghetti is a positive for Virgin Blue (VOZ)."

Godfrey said that (VOZ) will start taking delivery of 50 737NGs next year. The airplanes will feature three economy cabins - - premium economy, economy, and economy lite. The latter option will feature less legroom and is designed to compete with budget carriers.

April 2010: Virgin America (VUS), Virgin Blue (VOZ) and its V Australia (VAZ) subsidiary announced the linkage of their loyalty programs. (VUS) and (VOZ) also announced a cabin crew (CA) exchange program set to start in October.

August 2010: V Australia (VAZ) will operate one extra weekly Melbourne service to Los Angeles (to thrice-weekly), Johannesburg (to thrice-weekly), and Phuket (to twice-weekly) in December.

(VAZ) will boost its 777-300ER services between Sydney and Los Angeles and from Melbourne to Los Angeles, Johannesburg and Phuket. The changes will be introduced by December. New Zealand
domestic services end in October.

August 2010: The Virgin Blue group’s long-haul subsidiary, V Australia (VAZ) lost -A$42.8 million before interest and tax. (VAZ) is withdrawing from Johannesburg, South Africa; Phuket, Thailand, and Nadi, Fiji. Instead, it will only serve two international destinations — - Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles. (VAZ) already serves Los Angeles and plans to launch a thrice-weekly Sydney - Abu Dhabi service in February followed by a thrice-weekly Brisbane - Abu Dhabi service in February 2012. John Borghetti, CEO of the Virgin Blue group says (VAZ) only has a small fleet so it makes sense to focus on two key destinations where it gets passenger feed from airline partners. (VAZ) has a tie-up with Delta Air Lines (DAL) and Virgin America (VUS), and Borghetti says it will start code sharing with Etihad (EHD) on October 1, subject to regulatory approval. The deal involves code sharing on routes to Europe and the Middle East, linking the airlines’ frequent flyer programs and pitching together to win corporate accounts, says Borghetti.

Borghetti also raised the issue of the group’s four disparate brands: Virgin Blue (VOZ), for domestic; Pacific Blue (PBI), for short-haul international; Polynesian Blue (PLY), for its Samoan joint-venture; and V Australia (VAZ), for its long-haul operation. He says the group has yet to resolve this issue but, ideally, he would like to see just one brand across the group.

September 2010: After two rejections from regulators, the Virgin Blue Group scored a much-needed win when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) gave temporary approval for its alliance with Etihad Airways (EHD). That approval follows a green light for the tie-up from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Virgin Blue Group CEO, John Borghetti said (ACCC) approval means the airlines can begin selling airfares between Australia and Abu Dhabi with connections on Etihad (EHD)'s extensive network from October 1. Passengers can earn and burn points on each other’s respective networks from this date. “This is an important milestone as we create a global international network, greater competition on the international landscape and benefit our guests with great value fares, better scheduling and more choice,” Borghetti said.

Together, Etihad (EHD) and Virgin Blue (VOZ) long-haul subsidiary, V Australia (VAZ) will move toward a total of 27 weekly flights between Abu Dhabi and Australia — including twice-daily, Abu Dhabi – Sydney service; daily, Melbourne – Abu Dhabi flights; and six-times-weekly, Abu Dhabi – Brisbane service.

Subject to final approval, V Australia (VAZ) will operate three-times weekly, Sydney – Abu Dhabi services from February 2011, and three-times weekly, Brisbane – Abu Dhabi services from February 2012, aboard 777-300ERs.

Earlier this month, the (ACCC) issued a draft ruling rejecting Virgin Blue Group’s bid to forge an alliance with Air New Zealand (ANZ).

December 2010: Qantas (QAN)’s market stranglehold in Australia is set for the most dramatic shakeup since the demise of Ansett (ANS) in 2001, after the Australian competition regulator, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) gave approval for Virgin Blue (VOZ)’s comprehensive alliance with Air New Zealand (ANZ), reversing a draft decision rejecting the partnership and a draft OK tick for its tie-up with Etihad Airways (EHD). The two alliances underpin a (VOZ) makeover set to be unveiled next month.

(ACCC) Chairman, Graeme Samuel said that the regulator was satisfied that the alliances will “likely benefit passengers in a number of ways including more choice of routes and frequencies, and potentially lower fares, as a result of cost savings and efficiency improvements.”

The Virgin Blue Group of Airlines, CEO & Managing Director, John Borghetti, welcomed the separate decisions saying they were “truly game changing,” adding, “We are extremely pleased that the way is now cleared for us to create a truly global airline that not only offers a great product and service but also greater frequencies and great value for money fares.”

Starting in January, (VOZ) will roll out a series of innovations that will reshape the airline with business class (C), new branding, larger airplanes, color scheme, uniforms and on board offering intended to reshape and reposition the airline.

The alliance with (ANZ), which was previously initially rejected by the (ACCC), involves a coordinated approach to a range of issues including pricing, revenue management, schedules, capacity, and routes flown.

However, Samuel warned that the (ACCC) is still worried that the alliance may negatively affect competition on a number of routes between Australia and New Zealand. To counter this, it "imposed a number of conditions on authorization which are designed to address these competition concerns."

(VOZ) is awaiting a final determination from USA regulators on its proposed alliance with Delta Air Lines (DAL). The (DOT) tentatively disapproved the deal; however, the Australian government is now lobbying for approval on (VOZ)'s behalf. The (ACCC) has approved that tie up.

January 2011: 2 A330-243s (365, VH-FXA; 372, VH-FXB), Virgin Australia (VAZ) wet-leased, ex-Emirates (EAD), ex-(A6-EAB & A6-EAC).

February 2011: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) formally approved the alliance between the Virgin Blue Group and Etihad Airways (EHD). It follows the interim approval granted on September 23. Together, (EHD) and Virgin Blue (VOZ)’s long-haul subsidiary, V Australia (VAZ), will move toward a total of 27 weekly flights between Abu Dhabi and Australia — including twice-daily, Abu Dhabi – Sydney service; daily, Melbourne – Abu Dhabi flights; and six-times-weekly, Abu Dhabi – Brisbane service.

(VOZ) CEO, John Borghetti said the decision was excellent news for Australian travelers and for the tourism industry. “We are very pleased to receive final (ACCC) approval for our exciting new partnership with (EHD), which will see us establishing an international hub in Abu Dhabi,” said Borghetti. “This will allow us to offer corporate and leisure travelers a very attractive one-stop service to more than >14 destinations in Europe, as well as the United Kingdom, the Middle East, and Africa.”

The alliance is a key part of our strategy of building an international network with global coverage that complements our core domestic business. It will also provide guests with more opportunities to earn frequent flier points and have more extensive lounge access.”

The Virgin Blue (VOZ) Group launched its inaugural V Australia (VAZ) flight to Abu Dhabi, becoming the first Australian airline to operate to the Middle East in more than >20 years. Qantas (QAN) has used the Middle East only as a refueling stop prior to the introduction of the 747-400 and no Australian airlines have ever used that region as a hub to Europe and Africa.

The new service is a key plank in the group’s alliance with Etihad Airways (EHD); together the carriers will move toward 27 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Australia.

V Australia (VAZ) will operate three Sydney - Abu Dhabi services per week from this month and three Brisbane - Abu Dhabi services per week by February 2012, using 777-300ERs.

Virgin Blue (VOZ) announced it will build its first wide body hangar for 777s and A330s and associated infrastructure at Sydney airport as part of a new Engineering Maintenance base to support growing operations.

(VAZ) is accepting flight crew (FC) applications. (VAZ) requires the pilot (FC) to hold a current Australian passport or a current overseas passport with an unrestricted right to work in Australia and hold an Australian (ATPL) or Australian (CPL) with examination passes for all Australian (ATPL) Academic requirements.

March 2011: Virgin Blue (VOZ) will drop the “Blue” from its brand name (to "Virgin Airlines") opting instead for a streamlined brand more in line with its push to lure business (C) customers. But the airline's boss, former Qantas (QAN) Executive General Manager, John Borghetti, has stopped short of dumping the Virgin brand completely as the airline tries to redefine its place in the local market.

The airline’s brand consultant, Hans Hulsbosch, told "The Australian" that while the Virgin brand would continue to anchor the airline, "Blue" would no longer be part of it. The re-branding strategy is also expected to bring to an end, several Virgin brand extensions in the region, including Pacific Blue (PBI), Polynesian Blue (PLY) and V Australia (VAZ).

Research has found that as Virgin moved to capture the business-class (C) market dominated by Qantas (QAN), its brand was being held back by perceptions among business travelers that it was purely a budget airline. The fragmentation of the brand is due to a 2000 agreement between Virgin Atlantic (VAA) and Singapore Airlines (SIA), which prevents the Virgin brand being used outside Australia by Virgin Blue (VOZ). However, the new branding may get around this issue.

May 2011: Virgin Blue (VOZ) and its associate airlines: — V Australia (VAZ) and Pacific Blue (PBI) — have been re-branded as "Virgin Australia" (VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI) after Singapore Airlines (SIA), 49% owner of Virgin Atlantic Airways (VAA), reached an agreement with Virgin Group Chairman, Richard Branson regarding the use of the Virgin name on international services to/from Australia. SEE ATTACHED PHOTO - - "(VAZ)-2011-05-VIRGIN AUSTRALIA A330."

At the re-branding announcement in Sydney, Branson promised to revolutionize air travel in Australia with the new look, just as he did 10 years ago when Virgin Blue (VOZ) effectively put Ansett (ANS) out of business with its low fares. But this time his sights, and those of Virgin Australia (VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI) CEO, John Borghetti, are squarely set on Qantas (QAN) and its corporate clients. Virgin Australia (VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI) is being pitched as an upmarket product.

"I'm absolutely thrilled with the new look and feel of Virgin Australia (VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI)'s domestic product and I know it will shake up the Australian travel market on an even larger scale than it did 10 years ago," Branson said. The new makeover, both exterior and interior, is styled after Virgin America (VUS), which has won a string of awards for its zany approach and product, including the Air Transport World (ATW) 2011 "Passenger Service" award.

Branson said that the new "brand, livery, product and service offering will help to transform Virgin Australia (VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI) into a contemporary dynamic airline with a product to compete with the best."

Cornerstone of the revamp will be using the A330 for transcontinental routes fitted with 27C business-class seats. Additionally, 8C business-class seats will be installed on the airline's fleet of 737-700s/800s.

The first two airplanes sporting the new livery — a 737-800 and an A330 — touched down in Sydney. Borghetti said the consolidation of the brand into one was a pivotal point in the airline’s "game change program." "Virgin Australia (VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI) will be the airline of choice for all market segments. We will do this by bringing the magic back to flying," said Borghetti. "We have kept all the great attributes for which Virgin Blue (VOZ) is renowned: The 'can-do' attitude, the competitive pricing and the genuine friendly service. And we have elevated it to a new level."

As part of the deal to buy 49% of Virgin Atlantic (VAA) in 2000, (SIA) was given a veto on the use of the "Virgin" brand in the Asia/Pacific region outside of Australia, forcing Virgin Blue (VOZ) to brand its international operations Pacific Blue (PBI) for regional services and V Australia (VAZ) for long-haul operations. Analysts are speculating that Virgin Australia (VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI) will now form an alliance with Singapore Airlines (SIA) to fast track Southeast Asia services.

The Virgin Blue Group will expand its code share agreement with Delta Air Lines (DAL) to include more destinations in the USA and within Australia and New Zealand. This will allow Virgin Australia (VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI) passengers to connect from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Detroit, as well as the current New York and Orlando. (DAL) will code share on flights from Sydney to Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Auckland, and Christchurch.

Reversing its previous stance, the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) tentatively approved antitrust immunity (ATI) for Delta Air Lines (DAL) and Virgin Australia (VOZ)/(VAZ)/PBI to coordinate services between the USA and Australia.

The proposed transpacific alliance between (DAL) and (VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI), formerly the Virgin Blue Group, received approval from the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in December 2009 but the (DOT) tentatively rejected (ATI) last September. The (DOT) said that "(DAL) and its partners had made substantial changes from their previous application, addressing concerns that immunity would provide only limited benefit to consumers."

The tentative ruling is open to formal objections for two weeks, after which the (DOT) can finalize (ATI). The Australian government had pushed the (DOT) to reverse its tentative rejection. "Antitrust immunity (ATI) will enable (DAL) and Virgin Australia Airlines (VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI) to provide a seamless product to customers and more options for travel between the USA and the South Pacific," (DAL) said in a statement. "The airlines will collaborate through code sharing, coordinating route and product planning and extending frequent flyer program benefits and lounge access to customers of both carriers."

It added, "The alliance will create a comprehensive, fully integrated network able to serve thousands of city-pairs in North America and the South Pacific. (DAL) alone serves a single point in Australia, Sydney, and Virgin Australia's international airline, V Australia (VAZ), flies only to Los Angeles. The antitrust immunized (ATI) alliance will allow the airlines to fully cooperate on network planning and distribution."

(VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI) CEO, John Borghetti stated, "The (DAL) alliance is a key plank in (VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI)'s strategy to build an international network of airline partners that offers global coverage."

The (DOT) noted that in the revised (ATI) application, (VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI) "expanded the scope of the alliance to include service to more passengers. It also said that it had completed an upgrade of its reservation system to ensure compatibility with Delta (DAL)'s system, providing consumers with a more seamless travel network. In addition, the carriers said they would serve more cities and offer more capacity at the start of their alliance than they originally proposed, providing more benefits to consumers at the outset."

Air New Zealand (ANZ) and Virgin Australia Airlines (VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI) said they will revamp their networks across the Tasman Sea linking Australia and New Zealand as part of their alliance, which was approved in December. The alliance connects (ANZ)’s domestic network of 26 cities to (VOZ)’s domestic network of 31 domestic destinations, offering the largest Australasian route network for transtasman travelers.

The new network will be effective for the upcoming northern winter 2011 schedule and tickets will be on sale from July when the code share commences. Under the new network, (ANZ) will operate approximately 70% of capacity and (VOZ)/(VAZ)/(PBI) will operate 30%, reflecting the market share the airlines had prior to the alliance. The integration will see significant adjustment and harmonization of flights to ensure more convenient schedules for passengers.

(ANZ) Group General Manager Australasia Airline, Bruce Parton said that since the airlines had received regulatory approvals in December, dedicated teams from both airlines had worked to optimize the networks. “The changes better match capacity to demand and in many instances this means a greater range of flight times by removing wingtip flying, as well as better connections to domestic Australia and domestic New Zealand flights,” said Parton, noting, “As indicated last year, we are actively looking at a couple of potential new transtasman routes, which we will likely make a decision on before the end of the year.”

August 2011: Virgin Australia (VOZ) posted a loss of -A$66.6 million/-$69.75 million for its fiscal year ended June 30 compared to a profit of +A$21.3 million in the year-ago period. (VOZ) blamed natural disasters in its home state of Queensland, the radical revamp of its product and the introduction of new airplanes for the loss.

Virgin Blue (VOZ) and its associate airlines (V Australia (VAZ) and Pacific Blue (PBI)) were re-branded as "Virgin Australia" in May.

More than >50% of (VOZ)’s domestic operations are to/from or within Queensland, which was devastated by floods from late December through January and cyclone Yasi. The result also includes an A$36 million in unrealized foreign exchange loss due to the rising Australian dollar. “The financial year 2011 was a year of enormous challenge and significant change as we began repositioning the company to ensure a more stable financial future. These financial results reflect the impact of an unprecedented series of external events and reinforce the importance of our game change program strategy to increase our share of the more resilient corporate and government markets” CEO, John Borghetti said.

Since (VOZ) relaunched its brand, product and fares in May, yield in June increased +4.3%.

Revenue was up +9.7% to A$3.27 billion. Capacity (ASK)s rose +8.8% to 37.1 billion and traffic (RPK)s were 29.6 billion, up +10%. Load factor eased fractionally to 79.7% LF.

September 2011: Delta Air Lines and Virgin Australia (VOZ)/(VAZ) will expand their code share agreement on flights between the USA and Australia. (DAL) will add its code to (VOZ)/(VAZ) flights between Los Angeles and Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, while (VOZ)/(VAZ) will add its code to (DAL) service between Los Angeles and Sydney.

November 2011: Hawaiian Airlines (HWI) and the Virgin Australia Group have reached a code share agreement under which Virgin Australia (VAZ) will place its code on (HWI) flights between Sydney and Honolulu, as well as on flights to Kahului, Maui; Lihue, Kauai; plus Hilo and Kona.

December 2011: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has approved the comprehensive integrated network alliance between Virgin Australia (VOZ) and Singapore Airlines (SIA).

The (ACCC) Chairman, Rod Sims said the alliance “is likely to lead to increased competition for international air passenger services." Under the alliance, the airlines will cooperate on all aspects of their Australia - Singapore services and any international and domestic connecting routes, including joint pricing and scheduling, as well as joint marketing and sales.

"The ability to offer a comprehensive international and domestic network, along with enhanced frequent flyer and lounge products, is likely to be attractive to both corporate and government passengers," Sims said.

By the end of the year, (VOZ) and (SIA) will launch reciprocal frequent flyer benefits.

The Competition Commission of Singapore approved the tie-up in October.

The (ACCC) approval is the final tick for (VOZ)’s virtual airline strategy and it will now be able to offer global flight coverage through alliances with Etihad Airways (EHD), Air New Zealand (ANZ), Delta Air Lines (DAL), and (SIA), increasing its international reach from around 60 destinations to over >400 destinations worldwide.

The Virgin Australia group launched its international airlines V Australia and Pacific Blue under the new brand, Virgin Australia (VOZ). Establishing one brand and identity for (VOZ)’s domestic and international operations is a key part of the company’s game change program strategy and follows an agreement with Singapore Airlines (SIA), which is a 49% stakeholder in Virgin Atlantic Airways (VAA).

When (SIA) acquired the stake in 2000, one of the conditions was that (VOZ) could not use the Virgin name outside Australia.

(VOZ) CEO, John Borghetti said that having both the domestic and international airlines operating under the Virgin (VOZ) brand was one of the company’s most significant achievements this year.

“The Virgin Australia (VOZ) 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)” he said.

Now that the international airlines are all operating under the Virgin brand, Borghetti said its focus is on redesigning the product in the air to “ensure a first-rate travel experience across all of our airlines.” (VOZ) will reveal the new designs in the first half of 2012, he said.

The company’s trading name has also been changed from Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd to Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd.

March 2012: Virgin Australia (VOZ)/(VAZ) will wet lease one of its 777-300ERs to alliance partner, Etihad Airways (EHD) during a once weekly 34 hour 55 minute layover in Abu Dhabi. (EHD) has earmarked using the airplane to bolster services to Kuala Lumpur, a popular market for Gulf travellers and one that competitor Emirates (EAD) has been increasing capacity to.

The decision to wet lease the airplane to (EHD) once a week, from May 2012 subject to regulatory approval, finally allows (VOZ)/(VAZ) to better utilise the once weekly extended layover as part of the carrier's three times weekly Sydney - Abu Dhabi services which commenced in February 2011. The other two services have 10 hour 55 minute layovers.



Click below for photos:

January 2014:

15 ORDERS 737-800 (CFM56-7B):

2 +3/7 ORDER 777-3ZGER (756-37938, VH-VPD "DIDGEREE BLUE", 2009-01; 764-37939, VH-VPE, 2009-02), 35C, 40 PREMIUM ECONOMY, 288Y.

1 777-3ZGER (801-37940, VH-VPF), (ILF) 148 MTH LSD 2009-09. 35C, 40 PREMIUM ECONOMY, 288Y.

1 777-3ZGER (745-35302, VH-VOZ 2009-01), (ILF) LSD, 35C, 40 PREMIUM ECONOMY, 288Y.

2 A330-243 (TRENT 772B-60) (365, VH-FXA; 372, VH-FXB), (VOZ) WET-LSD, EX-(EAD), EX-(A6-EAB & A6-EAC). 12F, 42C, 183Y.





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