View Full Version : Virgin to launch Wellington-Sydney service

17th Dec 2003, 15:59
Wednesday, December 17, 2003. 11:44am (AEDT)

Virgin to launch Wellington-Sydney service

Pacific Blue Airlines, the international division of Australia's Virgin Blue, plans to introduce a daily service between the New Zealand capital, Wellington, and Sydney from March 10.

Chief executive Tony Marks said Pacific had chosen Wellington as its second New Zealand destination after Christchurch "following tremendous lobbying by business and tourism operators as well as the helpful cooperation of Wellington International Airport".

The service would be launched with an introductory $NZ99 fare.

Mr Marks said there was plenty of trans-Tasman competition to Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, but Wellington had been largely overlooked.

-- AFP


Wednesday December 17, 7:24 PM AEDT

Australia's Virgin Blue takes domestic market share over 30 percent

Australian discount airline Virgin Blue said its share of the domestic passenger market passed the 30 percent mark for the first time in October and foreshadowed a price war with Qantas.

Virgin Blue Ltd. said Wednesday official traffic data for November showed it had 30.4 percent of the total domestic market, including routes that it does not fly on.

"Clearly we've passed another line in the sand and this proves that the Australian public is supporting our way of doing business," Virgin Blue chief executive Brett Godfrey said.

The airline, which listed on the Australian Stock Exchange last week, is gearing up to meet Qantas Airways Ltd.'s response to its incursion into the Australian market, a discount airline called JetStar that will begin operating next year.

Godfrey said Virgin Blue had exceeded all expectations since it was launched three years ago by British tycoon Richard Branson.

"No one in their wildest dreams, no one in our team, honestly thought this airline would get to where it is today," Godfrey said.

He was unperturbed by Qantas' plans for JetStar, saying Virgin Blue would continue to offer Australia's lowest fares.

"Rest assured, we will put out certain fares over the next few months that are bonanzas, simply because we want the people to know who are the real low fare leaders," he said.

"Watch this space, I am sure we will do something silly in the next six weeks or so, so hang on to your pennies because it might be all you will need."

Godfrey said airfares were now 23 percent lower than before Virgin Blue's launch.

He attributed the latest market share growth to the airline's larger fleet of 42 aircraft, including two spares, after adding nine aircraft in the three months to October.

"We have had a lot of equipment come on in a short space of time, so I expected our market share would improve," he said. "But it is not going to go up much more between now and the close of the year (ending March 2004) because we have taken on pretty much our capacity until March."


18th Dec 2003, 00:06
Thurs "Melbourne Age"

Virgin's bold launch into Tasman routes
By Scott Rochfort
December 18, 2003

Virgin Blue yesterday signalled its most aggressive push into the trans-Tasman aviation market, with daily flights planned from Sydney to Wellington and Christchurch.

But it rejected suggestions it was looking to buy a stake in the regional airline Origin Pacific as a possible entry point into the New Zealand domestic market.

Representing a doubling of its scheduled flights between Australia and New Zealand, Virgin subsidiary Pacific Blue yesterday said it would start daily trans-Tasman services on March 10.

Pacific Blue chief executive Tony Marks said the $NZ99 ($A86.63) fare from Wellington to Sydney was an introductory special.

Pacific Blue will launch its first trans-Tasman service, between Brisbane and Christchurch, on January 29, with flights between Melbourne and Christchurch set to start in early March.

The airline hinted it would hold off entering the New Zealand domestic market in the near future, after it confirmed it was negotiating a possible de facto codeshare agreement with the regional carrier Origin Pacific, which services 14 airports across New Zealand.

Origin's managing director, Robert Inglis, last week signalled he was after additional capital to expand his seven-year-old airline's fleet of 15 aircraft. But Virgin Blue denied it was looking to buy a stake in the Nelson-based airline.

"We have had discussions, but we will not deviate from our low-cost model. Nor are we investing in any regional carrier at this time," said Virgin Blue head of strategy David Huttner.

The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation's Ian Thomas said any agreement with Origin could allow Pacific Blue to focus on the main routes in New Zealand.

Mr Marks said the airline still had firm plans to fly domestically. The airline was still weighing up where to utilise the two aircraft it expected to add to its fleet early next year.

He said routes would be either between Pacific islands or in the New Zealand domestic market.

Mr Marks, who coincidently headed Origin until last month, said Virgin's expansion plans into the New Zealand market could also involve using secondary airports, such as Napier, Invercargill and Dunedin.

He said Pacific Blue was also considering flying into Palmerston North and Hamilton, already serviced by Freedom Air, Air NZ's low-cost offshoot.

In Brisbane yesterday, Virgin Blue managing director Brett Godfrey said Virgin Blue had broken through the key 30 per cent barrier, increasing its share of the domestic air travel market in the lead-up to a possible price war with Qantas.