New uniforms, a new business class product and new airport lounges are among some of the initiatives Virgin Blue has unveiled as part of its bid to lure more corporate travellers.
The airline group has flagged more changes to come over the year, including a new marketing campaign, new product across the fleet and a revamped Velocity frequent flyer program.
Virgin Blue, Australia’s second largest airline, has roughly 10 per cent of the business market and hopes to double that share over the period ahead to reduce its reliance on leisure travellers. The airline connects Australia with most of Oceania plus Los Angeles, Thailand and the newly-announced destination Abu Dhabi.
Chief executive John Borghetti says solid progress is being made to build Virgin Blue’s share. Moreover, recent weak consumer sentiment and uncertainty in the economic outlook validated the airline’s strategy to reposition the itself as a viable and attractive option for corporate flyers.
Among the things announced on today, Mr Borghetti confirmed the first routes for Virgin Blue’s widebody Airbus A330 aircraft would be between Sydney and Perth, with services to start in May.
The aircraft would feature a new business class cabin and a “superior economy class”, the airline said.
“With our competitive pricing strategy, we believe this will be a compelling proposition for corporate travellers, whether they travel in business or economy class,” Mr Borghetti said.
Virgin Blue revealed its choice of turboprop aircraft for the partnership with Skywest to fly to regional routes, announced last month, was the 68-seat ATR-500 and ATR-600 turboprop aircraft.
The airline also unveiled new uniforms for cabin crew and staff on Wednesday, and said it would open a lounge at Coolangatta airport by June 30 this year. A further two lounges would be added by the end of the year. Business class would be rolled out across the domestic fleet by December 31, Virgin Blue said.
The new uniform for cabin crew and ground staff, designed by Project Runway winner Juli Grbac, were shown off at a fashion show at a Sydney CBD shopping centre featuring supermodel Elle Macpherson.
Mr Borghetti said the company was on track to strengthen its position in both the leisure and corporate market in 2011/12, with the full implementation of all the new initiatives to be rolled out by the end of the year. Virgin Blue has recently reported a 62 per cent decline in first half net profit to AUS$23.8 million, which was at the lower end of company guidance and below market forecasts.
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