By Will Lee
Virgin Australia Adds Nine Boeing 737-800s
Earlier this year, Virgin Australia announced that it will be enhancing its services by adding 10 Boeing 737-800s to its fleet. In the latest announcement, the airline has finalized the deal and confirmed nine Boeing 737-800s will have joined its fleet by October.
Virgin Australia said the additional aircraft reflected the airline’s commitment to its customers, team members and Australia’s aviation sector into the long term.
Virgin Australia forecasts the demand will be surged in domestic travel after the increase of the vaccination and interstate borders reopen. The new aircraft were expected to enter into services in the coming peak season, and all nine aircraft are set to provide services by mid-February.
The airline will own 77 aircraft after the new planes join the fleet.
“These extra aircraft are an important part of our planning and ensure we’re ready to ramp up flying and meet the pent-up demand for domestic travel as soon as the opportunity presents itself,” Jayne Hrdlicka, CEO of the airline, said.
Virgin Australia has mainly focused on domestic travel since the pandemic had begun. Although the travel bubble arrangement between Australia and New Zealand has been reached in April.
“The airline is crystal clear that the underlying consumer desire for travel is strong,” Hrdlicka added.
With the new capacity, the airline is aiming the share of 33% of the domestic market. Virgin Australia also believed the new aircraft will support hundreds of jobs.
In the meantime, the airline also revealed that its first Boeing 737 Max 10 will be delivered by mid 2023, which will deliver greater operational efficiencies. Virgin Australia is the first Australian carrier to own a Boeing 737 Max.
In addition, Virgin Australia joined Qantas, its main rival in the country, in considering the vaccine mandatory to its employees. Under the latest proposal to the staff, front-line staff need to be vaccinated by Nov 15 while office-based employees need to inoculate by Mar 31. The airline will announce the final decision in September.
According to the airline, over 75% of the front-line staff have received the first dose of the vaccine, and nine% have registered for vaccination. Earlier, Virgin Australia launched a program named “VA-X & WIN” competition for staff and customers to encourage the Australians to get the Covid vaccine.
Virgin Australia also enticed passengers with cheaper airfare during the pandemic. The airline introduced an Economy Lite fare to its customers, allowing travelers to remove the unwanted cost of checked baggage from their ticket price. As a result, 30% of customers did not use their checked baggage allowance. Virgin Australia becomes the only Australian airline to provide no-frills, economy and business class travel.
The airline emphasized the cheapest fare is 33% lower than in September 2019.