Virgin Express (Euronext: VIRE; OTC Bulletin Board: VIRGY) has seen its internet sales in Belgium double during 2002. In September Belgian internauts booked 30,442 seats compared with14,500 in January. Over the entire route network the total number of web bookings rose from 45.365 in January 2002 to 70.004 last month.
In September 2002 34,5% of all seats were sold through www.virgin-express.com. About 48% of the reservations were made through travel agencies (of which 22% used the ticketless GDS-systems that Virgin Express helped to develop). Consumers booked the remaining 17.5% directly through the call centre.
A series of new e-commerce records were set in September 2002:
—On 30th September 5258 reservations were made through the Virgin Express website (i.e. more than three bookings per minute!);—the monthly e-turnover was more than EUR 4.5 million (Sept. 2001: EUR 1.4 million);—The proportion of internet bookings originating from Belgium climbed to 43,5% (2001: 31,0%).
Paul Sies, Commercial Director of Virgin Express, explains the sudden jump in web sales as follows: “The efforts we have made to make our website more attractive seem to have achieved their objective. The booking module in nine European languages, the special web-based booking engine for the travel trade, the new look and feel and the special internet discount of EUR 2 per internet booking have combined to encourage more people than ever to make flight reservations with Virgin Express. In addition, one must also acknowledge that since 1st September Virgin Express is the only carrier in Europe to give its customers the ability to change travel date, flight and even the name of the passenger regardless the fact whether one has bought a seat at a promotional fare or not. This openness and flexibility is what distinguishes Virgin Express from the other airlines and increasing numbers of consumers appreciate the difference.”
At present Virgin Express is the largest carrier at Brussels Airport. The low fare carrier offers flights from Brussels to a wide variety of major European destinations: Athens, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Faro, Geneva, Gothenburg, Lisbon, London-Heathrow, Madrid, Malaga, Milan, Nice, Rome and Stockholm.