Virgin Blue Airlines has taken a significant step in its plans to launch Australia’s newest international airline with the signing of a multi billion dollar aircraft order and confirmation that it will create over 1100 new jobs.Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey was joined by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Hon Mark Vaile and President of Boeing Australia, Craig Saddler, to sign an A$2.2 billion deal for six Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with options for an additional six aircraft.
Virgin Blue has also signed an agreement with leading global lessor, International Leasing Finance Company (ILFC) for a seventh 777-300ER, taking the total aircraft commitment price to A$2.6 billion.
The order comes as Virgin Blue accelerates plans for its yet-to-be-named long haul airline operation. While routes are yet to be announced, the new international airline will initially focus on flights between Australia and the West Coast of the USA.
Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said, “This is a significant milestone for Virgin Blue and for Australian aviation.”
“Our decision to make this significant investment is a clear indication that the findings of the Government’s Aviation Review last year were the right ones. Based squarely on that Cabinet review and resolution, Virgin Blue took a decision to invest and launch a new international airline for Australia.”
“We will launch that airline in 2008. We will create more Australian jobs, bring more tourists and provide choice and vigorous competition on the Trans Pacific route” said Godfrey.
President of Boeing Australia, Craig Saddler, said, “Virgin Blue will be the first Australian airline to operate the exceptional 777-300ER aircraft and we look forward to working with Virgin Blue in its quest to open up international air travel to more people.”
A Virgin Blue team is currently in the United States working with US Government representatives regarding the regulatory approval process, which has been underway for some months.
Virgin Blue’s long haul project team is currently recruiting other key management team members. Within the first twelve months of its operation, the long haul airline will create 1160 Australian based jobs including cabin crew, pilots and ground crew.
The name of the new airline and updates on the regulatory process are expected to be announced in the next few months.