>> Wednesday, May 4, 2011
MELBOURNE, May 4 (Bernama)-- Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd has launched the Virgin Australia brand, to eventually replace the existing three brands, as the airline aims to capture a larger slice of the business travel market.
Virgin Australia was launched in Sydney today by Sir Richard Branson and chief executive John Borghetti, with new colours, uniforms and services.
"We're planning to have the best domestic business class," Branson is reported by the Australian Associated Press as telling the launch at Sydney Airport.
"We will continue to offer competitive economy class fares," he added.
Virgin Blue is aiming to increase its share of the business market in Australia, currently dominated by Qantas Airways Ltd, to raise the yield on the flights it offers.
The airline needs to increase profitability, after saying in March that it would report a full-year loss because of rising fuel prices, the Christchurch earthquake and flooding and Cyclone Yasi in Queensland.
It is expected to report a full-year pre-tax loss of A$30 million to A$80 million.
Virgin Blue said it would spend A$30 million to A$35 million on rebranding, new uniforms and new services.
It will buy 12 to 14 new planes this year in the new all-white colour scheme with red trim.
Virgin Australia will replace the existing domestic Virgin Blue brand immediately and international brands V Australia and Pacific Blue, by year-end.
Branson said Virgin Australia would shake up the Australian travel market even more than when Virgin Blue was launched 10 years ago.