Virgin Australia To Do Seat Changes On Economy, Business Class

1st Oct 2014

The business travel sector in Australia has consistently been on the upswing trend, which provide a sigh of relief to most airlines who offer business class in each of their flights amidst weak demand in leisure travel.

Virgin Australia, for its part, is planning to remove a few seats from its economy class to make room for an expanded business class cabin. The aim is to draw customers away from its major rival, Qantas, by offering superior product.

Virgin Australia CEO, John Borghetti, confidently said that customers don't mind paying a premium if only to enjoy improved travel experience at its business class suite. Each suite features a 203-cm lie-flat bed, private screen, wider seat, bigger storage and ample working space.

The outfitting of the aircraft with the new business class layout is already ongoing and shall be rolled out starting March of next year, and by August 2015, the entire fleet under the program will be completed.

For Boeing 777 jets, for example, the economy and premium economy classes will have nine and 16 less seats, respectively, while the business class will gain 4 more seats.

For the A330 fleet, the business class will lose 4 seats to provide more space.

The airline, however, lags behind Qantas in their race to roll out the first aircraft with enhanced business class as the latter is scheduled to start deploying its own before the year ends.

Mr. Borghetti, however, was grateful to Qantas for showing the way to improve their own with a much better product.

He is aiming for a 30% market share in the business travel segment by 2017 from the current 25%. He refused to disclose the actual amount the airline spent on the upgrade as, he said, it is a trade secret. But he was confident that the airline will be able to increase its revenue soon after the rollout.

The carrier posted a loss of $212 million for the latest fiscal 2013-2014 due to sluggish economy but the executive was very optimistic on the future.

He said that they're building Virgin Australia to become the country's favorite airline most Australians will take pride as their own.