Sir Richard Branson has won a ten-year battle to combine his three Australian carriers – Virgin Blue, V Australia and Pacific Blue – under one moniker, Virgin Australia. A previous ruling prevented him from using the “Virgin” name on aircraft that flew international routes.
Last week Virgin Atlantic staked its official claim to having the world’s most attractive cabin crew. This week its sister airline Virgin Blue was joined by a supermodel – with Australian fashion icon Elle Macpherson among the pilots and crew to model its new uniforms.
More than 50,000 passengers have been affected following the collapse the Virgin Blue ticketing system on Sunday evening. As many as 400 flights were cancelled or delayed following the outage, with the airline blaming its information technology producer – Navitaire – for the glitches.
Etihad Airways and Virgin Blue Group have won interim authorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to form an alliance on flights to Abu Dhabi. The body had earlier rejected an application from the Australian carrier to form an alliance with Air New Zealand while US authorities scuppered a deal with Delta Air Ways.
Virgin Blue Holdings has seen stocks soar this morning following a return to profitability for financial 2010 and confirmation of a major linkup with Etihad Airways. The agreement will see VBH’s international arm - V Australia - launch direct services to Abu Dhabi in 2011, with the two airlines subsequently offering a joint network of more than 100 destinations.
Pacific Blue, a subsidiary of Richard Branson’s Virgin Blue, is axing its New Zealand domestic operations after suffering from years of heavy losses. It will redeploy planes and staff on transtasman services to Australia.
Former Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon has been appointed the new chairman of Tourism Australia in a move designed to restore “leadership” to the organisation. A shake up at the top also sees Perth businesswoman Kate Lamont and former Virgin Blue chief executive Brett Godfrey take up positions on the board.
Shares in Virgin Blue, Australia’s second largest carrier, fell as much as 30 per cent on Friday after it revealed that full-year profits could be as much as 75 percent lower than forecast only weeks ago. It blamed a “rapid deterioration and increased volatility” in trading, with leisure bookings hit particularly hard.
Air New Zealand and Virgin Blue are seeking regulatory approval for an alliance, with the airlines hoping to challeng Qantas as the dominant force in the region. Regulators are expected to take around six months to review the applications prior to authorisation.
Virgin Blue, Australia’s second largest airline, is to embark on a massive spending spree with the purchase of 105 Boeing 737 aircraft. The order represents the largest for Boeing in the past 18 months, as well as the Virgin Blue’s most significant fleet upgrade in its 10-year history.
Former Qantas executive John Borghetti has been appointed chief executive officer at rival Australian airline Virgin Blue. The move has sparked a flurry of activity in the Australian aviation industry, with Colin Storrie also stepping down as finance director at Qantas.