V Australia is Australia’s newest entry into the international airline market. Following the success of the open skies agreement between Australia and the USA, the airspace overlying the big pond between the two countries is now heavily liberalised, meaning that the carriage of both people and cargo across the Pacific is finally open to the kind of competition the consumer deserves.
Ticket prices will reduced as a true function of more modern airliner equipment and customer service will improve as V Australia emulates its famous domestic service onboard its International brand – while others desperately try to reverse years of systemic laziness in a desperate attempt to compete. The wholly owned ‘Virgin Blue’ carrier will commence daily operations from Sydney to Los Angeles on December 15th 2008, while operations from its home town of Brisbane to LA are due to commence in March 2009. If manufacturing schedules are maintained by Boeing, the carrier is set to tackle the lucrative South African routes with its fifth aircraft sometime in October 2009, and they have plans to extend its operation into Japan, China and Europe sometime after that.
The Virgin Blue carrier will carry its brand across the Pacific in a fleet of brand new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft (currently in production by Boeing). The Boeing 777 is arguably the most advanced passenger aircraft in service with only the yet-to-be-released 787 to surpass the aircraft in terms of its technological sophistication. The massive aircraft is comparative in size to a Boeing 747 and only marginally lacks the same seating capacity. The 777 cabin is far quieter and will likely include facilities such as an in-flight bar and lounge (V Australia are promising more details soon).
V will offer a three-class service with economy, premium economy and business-class seating – yet all passengers will have individual access to in-seat video screens (between 9 and 12.1 inches) and on-demand entertainment. Business class passengers will also have access to built-in USB connectivity, in-seat power sockets and dedicated cabin service. All passengers will have full access to Panasonic’s AeroMobile technology, allowing full mobile phone and e-mail connectivity during flight. The aircraft will also feature ambient cabin lighting relative to the time of day or night – very similar to that of its sister airline Virgin America.
Qantas seems to be copping its fair share of criticism lately – much of it justified, and other ‘stories’ syndicated or broadcast by media to further sensationalise the brand’s ongoing run of bad luck. If it weren’t for the depressurisation of its 747 last week, it’s unlikely that any other incident would have qualified newsworthy… but of course it’s the media’s nature to disembowel a horse while it’s down. Even though there was virtually no danger to passengers in the long run of recent ‘safety scares’, consumer confidence in the airline is at an all time low, forcing the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to closely investigate the airline’s safety culture, maintenance and line operations. V Australia couldn’t ask for any better publicity without having to spend a cent. Since Qantas has Peter Gibson – and for that matter CASA – in its pocket, it’s unlikely that any real investigation will actually take place, and any results will only continue to paint a glowing picture of an airline that clearly doesn’t warrant any praise.
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- World Airline Awards 2008 (Qantas & Virgin Blue)