View Full Version : Virgin Atlantic to AUS mid 2004

27th Nov 2003, 18:08
Dow Jones
Thursday November 27, 8:35 PM AEDT

HK Cathay Pacific/Virgin: Requires E.U. Approval

HONG KONG (Dow Jones)--Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. Hong Kong's biggest airline, Thursday won the right to serve the lucrative London-to-New York market, following three days of talks between the Hong Kong and U.K. governments.

In exchange, privately owned British carrier Virgin Atlantic will be allowed to extend its London to Hong Kong services to Sydney.

Government officials said Thursday that Hong Kong airlines would be given the right to fly to any point in the U.K., as well as fly between London and New York. While they didn't specify carriers, Hong Kong's only other major airline, Hong Kong Dragon Airlines only flies in the Asia-Pacific region.

A Cathay spokeswoman confirmed the talks had ended, but said approval was subject to agreement from the European Commission. It declined to comment further.

Virgin, in turn, issued a statement saying that while the flights would be subject to European Commission approval, they expected this to be granted so that flights can start in mid-2004.


27th Nov 2003, 19:49
Great news, another airline to Australia! As frequent flyer to Oz ( Holidays ) i will definately try Virgin, never flew with them. I just hope that it will be the A346 :}

So much capacity to the Australian market, also the Australian government released a few days ago a Tourism White Paper ( More A$$$$$$ to promote Australia ).


Buster Hyman
27th Nov 2003, 20:34
More A$$$$$$ to promote Australia

Ladies & Gentlemen, you're Ansett ticket tax at work!:suspect:

Lucky for Dick that VS is on it's way, he's running out of storage for all that AUD he's been raking in!:rolleyes:

27th Nov 2003, 23:27
Fri "The Australian"

Virgin close to kangaroo dream
By Glenda Korporaal in Hong Kong
November 28, 2003

Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic appeared to be a step closer to its goal of flying to Australia last night as UK-Hong Kong air talks extended into their third day yesterday.

Insiders said that there had been progress during the talks, which Virgin Atlantic hopes will allow it to make daily flights to Australia via Hong Kong. Under the deal, Cathay Pacific would get transatlantic rights to fly from Heathrow to the US while Virgin would be allowed to fly to Australia from Hong Kong, which it currently services with daily flights.

Approval from the Australian side would then be given as there is plenty of capacity on the Australia-UK route under existing air services agreements.

If Hong Kong and UK officials can reach agreement, Virgin is expected to launch its services to Australia by mid-2004.

British Airways has opposed the move, unwilling to give Virgin access to the lucrative route from London to Australia.

BMI (formerly British Midland) is also opposed to Cathay's plans to fly across the Atlantic.

However, the key issue holding up an agreement appeared to be the question of whether the British Government had the authority to negotiate an air services deal with Hong Kong.

While British officials have argued that they did, HK officials were concerned about a decision in the European Court of Justice last year which said some bilateral deals signed by EU member states were illegal under European Union law.


28th Nov 2003, 08:07
27 November 2003
Press Release

Sir Richard Branson today welcomed the deal reached between the UK and Hong Kong to liberalise their air services arrangements and announced that Virgin Atlantic plans to launch services to Australia, via Hong Kong, from next summer.

Today’s agreement at air services negotiations between the UK and Hong Kong paves the way for Virgin Atlantic to launch new services to Australia, bringing much needed competition, and its award winning service and innovative products, to the Kangaroo route. Implementation of the agreement is subject to the final approval of the European Commission but as this deal is pro-competition and pro-consumer Virgin Atlantic expects approval to be granted soon to enable it to operate these services from Summer 2004.

Commenting on the deal Sir Richard said:

“Everyone at Virgin Atlantic has long wished for the airline to operate to Australia, and today’s deal between Hong Kong and the UK means that our ambition will soon become a reality. This is truly a dream come true for the travelling public and everyone at Virgin Atlantic.

“I am very grateful to the Hong Kong authorities for agreeing to this change to the air services arrangements, and to UK Ministers for the offer of trans-Atlantic rights to Hong Kong carriers that made this deal possible. I would also like to express my thanks to all of those in Hong Kong who have helped us achieve this result, and especially the Airport Authority of Hong Kong.

“I’m particularly pleased that we will be able to link up with our sister airline Virgin Blue. Virgin Blue has been a huge success and now accounts for 30% of the Australian market. Virgin Blue will be able to fly our passengers from Sydney to every major Australian city at prices people can afford.”

The UK has negotiated a deal in line with EC draft regulations and Virgin Atlantic will be pressing ahead with plans to launch its award-winning service to Sydney and to expand its existing London-Hong Kong services to double daily as soon as possible.

Virgin Atlantic aims to commence operations to Sydney, via Hong Kong from Heathrow, in Summer 2004 using an Airbus A340-600. Virgin will operate a daily service through to Sydney with a two hour stopover in Hong Kong in both directions. As the route builds we’ll fly the new A380 “super-jumbo” aircraft to Sydney – meaning that the route will move from the world’s longest aircraft to the world’s largest aircraft.

Richard also said:

“The start of Virgin Atlantic operations to Australia will be a boon for consumers in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia, as it will mean that much needed competition is brought to these markets. I am sure that Virgin’s award winning service and innovative products will be well received both in the UK-Australia and Hong Kong-Australia markets. Travellers on the Kangaroo route have not previously experienced the level of comfort offered in Virgin’s new Upper Class Suite which consists of a reclining leather seat for take off, a place to sit and eat a proper meal opposite your partner, the longest fully flat bed in the world with a proper mattress for sleeping on, a private onboard bar to drink at with your friends, a private massage room and four limousines per return trip – all at a price thousands of pounds less than BA’s First Class.

“I am under no illusions though that competing on the Kangaroo route will be easy, especially given the overwhelming advantages enjoyed by BA and Qantas through their Joint Services Agreement for services between London and Australia, and the joint dominance of Qantas and its oneworld partner Cathay on services between Hong Kong and Australia. Despite today’s agreement I still expect the Australian competition authorities to take a tough stance on the BA/Qantas joint services agreement in order that Virgin, and others, can operate on a level playing field.”

Finally, Richard called on Geoff Dixon, Chief Executive of Qantas to fulfil the terms of the challenge laid down on 24 July of this year.

“Geoff Dixon said we’d never get the rights to fly to Australia. We said we’d do so within 18 months and we set Geoff a challenge, which would see the loser wearing cabin crew uniform and serving on the winner’s aircraft from London to Sydney. I’m asking Geoff to send us his measurements now so we can get his uniform made up for our inaugural flight. Oh and by the way Geoff, I’ll have a gin and tonic!”

For further information, please contact the Virgin Atlantic Press Office on 01293 747373 or try the Virgin Atlantic website www.virgin.com/atlantic


28th Nov 2003, 08:25
“Geoff Dixon said we’d never get the rights to fly to Australia. We said we’d do so within 18 months and we set Geoff a challenge, which would see the loser wearing cabin crew uniform and serving on the winner’s aircraft from London to Sydney. I’m asking Geoff to send us his measurements now so we can get his uniform made up for our inaugural flight. Oh and by the way Geoff, I’ll have a gin and tonic!”

That's a bit cockey Richard but I guess you did win the bet fair and square.

Will you please let me know the flight that Geoff will be crewing, I wouldn't miss it for the world !!!;)

28th Nov 2003, 15:59
ABC News Online

Virgin gives Qantas shares a battering

Shares in Qantas have taken a battering after rival Virgin Atlantic won permission to fly between Hong Kong and Sydney.

The entrance of Virgin Atlantic will step up the pressure on the two other carriers servicing the route, Qantas and Cathay Pacific.

Around 3:00pm (AEDT), Qantas shares were almost 3 per cent lower to $3.30.

Virgin Blue Gold Coast-Perth flights set to take off

Budget airline Virgin Blue has announced it is set to begin direct flights between the Gold Coast and Perth.

The service will begin in March next year and will initially operate five days a week but the airline is expected to move to daily services if there is enough demand.

Virgin Blue's head of strategy, David Huttner, says there are a large number of people from the Gold Coast and northern New South Wales who drive to Brisbane to access direct flights.

"The traffic is really two ways, the Gold Coast has a tremendously strong tourism environment but so has WA," he said.

"A lot of people have friends and family across the country, loved ones granchildren and because of that we've had strong flows in both directions."

Virgin Blue is also planning to add services in and out of Sydney and Melbourne.


28th Nov 2003, 21:13
I think you'll find Geoff Dixon's response to the original bet was
"At QANTAS we run an airline, not a circus"

404 Titan
28th Nov 2003, 22:12
Personally I wouldn’t get too excited until the EU ratifies the deal. The EU in the past has gazumped similar deals. We will just have to wait till the final decision has been made before we all get too excited. Personally I think Virgin Atlantic has jumped the gun with all their press releases claiming success in the bilateral air talks before the EU has been able to rule on it.

bitter balance
28th Nov 2003, 22:17
Saw an interview this evening with Peter Harbison (spelling?) who made a pretty good point. He said VA would be more likely to get oncarriage (and give oncarriage) to QF given their status as a premium service airline. I can't see someone who has flown in on the VA service with all the trimming as listed by Richard Branson shoe horning themselves onto a VB flight complete with toilet roll passing and other assorted cabin fun.

Sheep Guts
29th Nov 2003, 06:56
If Virgin Atlantic can offer a better baggage allowance than QF and BA, Theyll be on a winner. 20kg piece per person is a bit constrained.


29th Nov 2003, 10:32
Sat "Weekend Australian"

Appeal after Virgin spreads wings
Steve Creedy
29 Nov 03

Qantas has called on the British Government to let it fly between Shanghai and London in the wake of Thursday's decision to allow Virgin Atlantic to operate to Australia.

Richard Branson's international airline, 49 per cent owned by Singapore Airlines, won its long-running battle for access to Australia in an agreement between Hong Kong and British air officials. The agreement is still subject to European Union approval but the airline hopes to begin daily service in the European summer using an Airbus A340-600 configured to seat 50 upper class, 28 premium economy and 233 economy passengers.

Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon said yesterday he hoped the Virgin Atlantic decision would prompt the UK Government to grant Qantas Shanghai-London rights.

Mr Dixon said Virgin Atlantic already flew the route four times a week.

"China has already given Australia the rights to fly between Shanghai and London," Mr Dixon said.

Mr Dixon also denied claims by Sir Richard that there was little competition on Australia-UK routes and that Qantas had an advantage through its links to British Airways and Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific.

"At a time when Qantas is being denied an opportunity to compete with Virgin Atlantic over Shanghai, Virgin Atlantic has given the impression that there is little competition on the kangaroo route," Mr Dixon said. "In fact, the UK route is extremely competitive with around 20 airlines operating services between the United Kingdom and Australia."

Virgin Atlantic's Australian sales and marketing manager, Gia Acitelli, said the Hong Kong decision would allow the airline, which now code-shares with Malaysia Airlines, to establish itself in Australia in its own right.

Virgin Atlantic has built its reputation on premium offerings such as limousine transfers, stand up bars and beauty and massage services.

It is upgrading its premium class and replacing sleeper seats with a new flat bed.

The international airline would also work with Virgin Blue to offer "a very competitive range of air services", Ms Acitelli said.

The Virgin Atlantic announcement came as Qantas revealed that former National Australia Bank executive banker and Qantas Superannuation chairwoman Patricia Cross would join the airline's board as a non-excutive director in January to replace Trevor Kennedy.

Qantas chairwoman Margaret Jackson said she was confident Ms Cross would enhance the board with her skills and experience.

Ms Cross, who is also a director of Wesfarmers, has extensive international experience in finance and banking. Qantas shares closed down 7c at $3.33.


Chocks Away
29th Nov 2003, 11:06
Virgin Atlantic to Aust. ...Great to see.:ok:
Hotels in Sydney have been full all this week too, from the overflow of Euro residents trying to get back home after the Rugby World Cup. No seats out! (quote/unquote)

29th Nov 2003, 12:26
Very happy for my mates at VB who will get some widebody experience and a payrise.

30th Nov 2003, 06:28

Are Virgin Blue going to fly the route then?

30th Nov 2003, 10:51

Doesn't matter in the world of Virgin.

I am sure Pacific Blue will expand in areas you would think reserved for the loyal Virgin Blue team.

Why not undercut your Virgin Atlantic "brothers"?
You have everybody else!

Workers fighting workers for work- Branson's dream.

30th Nov 2003, 10:57
Workers fighting workers for work- Branson's dream.

......................and Rod Eddington's and Geoff Dixon's and any other Airline CEO you care to name !

Going Boeing
30th Nov 2003, 11:35
I don't know if Cathay is that excited about the deal. The London - New York route has extensive competition with only modest yields whereas Virgin gets rights to fly London - Sydney including fifth freedom rights between Hong Kong and Australia. No wonder "Tricky Dicky" is crowing.

30th Nov 2003, 11:44
Whiskery resurfaces.

I was as shocked as you at the insipid performance of your footy team last September.

As a hypothetical CEO the Virgin Blue/ Impulse pilots would warm me the most!

There is a bit of pilot shortage approaching but this group still buying their job, undercutting unneccessarily and happy to either wallow in their own sh** or vote with their feet and go somewhere else in the world that pays better ( without causing industrial problems at home ).

30th Nov 2003, 13:48
"insipid" is exactly the word Gnadenburg ! However, as a long suffering Pies supporter, we are used to these disappointments. I have forgiven and look forward to the 2004 season.

What I can't fathom is how these guys can afford a Commercial pilot's licence with Instructor and / or ME Instrument rating and then fork out another $25,000 for an NG rating?

There can't be that many eligible Bank Manager's daughters around !:confused:

30th Nov 2003, 15:54
So how do all of these 5th freedom rights work anyway? Does this mean Qantas can fly SYD-HKG-LHR if they wanted to?

Going Boeing
30th Nov 2003, 16:27

Fifth Freedom rights allow a carrier to uplift pax between countries other than their home country ie Virgin Atlantic flying LHR - SYD (via HKG). Without fifth freedom rights Virgin would not be able to uplift pax on the HKG - SYD sector which would mean that with some pax having disembarked in HKG the aircraft flys onto SYD only half full. This is obviously not good economics so most airlines will not operate a route without fifth freedom rights.
Cathay is still strongly lobbying the HKG authorities not to give Qantas rights to the HKG - LHR route, so Qantas has applied for the SYD - SHA - LHR route but still needs approval from the Pommie authorities. At present Virgin Atlantic is in a very good position.

30th Nov 2003, 16:37
So its the HKG authorities (the middle people) that decide on 5th freedom rights. So why would they allow Virgin Atlantic to operate LHR-HKG-SYD if its gonna be detrimental to Cathay? For Cathay to operate HKG-LHR-JFK would require the UK authorities approval? So did the HKG and UK authorities get together and come up with this agreement?
So if Qantas was to get 5th freedom rights through HKG would require Australia to give Cathay 5th freedom rights through SYD to say LAX or similar? Also does this then mean the current 5th freedom rights that Qantas has through SIN and BKK is not currently offset by anything ie Singair or Thai do not use SYD as a middle port and go on to somewhere further?