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Virgin Blue In Line For 520M Sterling Float, And 400M Order With Boeing.

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Virgin Blue In Line For 520M Sterling Float, And 400M Order With Boeing.

Old 10th Nov 2002, 03:50
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Post Virgin Blue In Line For 520M Sterling Float, And 400M Order With Boeing.


Virgin Blue in-line for 520 mln stg float-report

Saturday November 9, 8:33 pm ET

LONDON, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Travel and retail mogul Richard Branson has hired Goldman Sachs investment bank to float Australian airline Virgin Blue, which he half owns, in the first half of 2003, The Sunday Times reported.

He will likely announce the float -- with a value of up to 520 million pounds ($US828 million) -- in the next few weeks, the paper said.

Branson, who owns larger Virgin Atlantic airline along with Singapore Airlines Ltd., is expected to announce the deal when his company unveils a 400 million pound order from U.S-based jet maker Boeing Co, it reported.

The business tycoon is expected to keep a majority stake in the airline, but could make about 60 million pounds in an earn-out pact with Patrick Corp, an Australian transport company that purchased a half-share in the airline earlier in the year.

On November 6, Branson signed a deal to rent terminal space at Sydney airport, Australia's largest, for Virgin Blue, ending months of wrangling.

He had been campaigning for months to get Sydney Airport to stick to a handshake deal on terminal space for the airline.

The cut-price carrier had been operating out of an overcrowded, temporary building with no covered gateways that sits hundreds of metres from the main Sydney airport terminal buildings.
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Old 10th Nov 2002, 04:41
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from Ozflight.com.au

The new deal signed over the terminal will allow the airline to move from its "tin-shed" operation into the near-new Terminal Two. Although allocated only 6 of the requested 9 dedicated gates the airline will have access to a further 6 should demand warrant. Whilst the airline was forced to revise its national schedule around a major over-crowding problem at the Sydney Terminal, expansion plans are now firmly back on the agenda as operations for the new terminal are planned for early December.

The airline currently operates 27 aircraft across its 15 port network. This fleet comprises:

9 x 180 seat 737-800 aircraft
1 x 162 seat 737-400 aircraft
12 x 144 seat 737-700 aircraft
1 x 144 seat 737-300 aircraft
4 x 138 seat 737-700 aircraft

Negotiations have been underway since June for the expansion of this fleet to add a further 12 aircraft by the end of next year. Both Airbus and Boeing are hotly contesting this expansion with Airbus offering to re-train all of the airlines staff in exchange for a complete fleet change-over to their A32X series. Despite this Branson has already indicated that Boeing is well ahead on points and with Brett Godfrey visiting the Boeing plant in Seattle just a month ago, rumours that Virgin Blue will be a launch customer for the new 737-900X are looking favourable.

Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey stated that the agreement with Sydney Airport "will allow Virgin Blue to fast-track its fleet expansion plans". Furthermore "Virgin Blue can channel its resources into the international arena". More specifically a week ago on a Brisbane radio interview Virgin Blue stated that there would be 8 aircraft dedicated to international operations by the end of 2004 and that flights to and from New Zealand could be started as early as August next year.

The market is settling very nicely for Virgin Blue. Having gained a long-term hold on the Sydney Terminal it is even less likely now that a third domestic operator will enter the market. The airline continues to introduce new routes of which the most recent was Sydney-Maroochydore only four weeks ago. Virgin Blue has also announced the commencement of two new services on December the 12th with flights from Brisbane to both Rockhampton and Perth. Indiciations are that with the strong demand on the 8 weekly Maroochydore flights a direct flight from Melbourne isn't far off either.

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Old 10th Nov 2002, 07:54
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Branson to take Virgin Atlantic to Australia in 2003

10 November, 2002 12:20 GMT+08:00

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Travel and retail mogul Richard Branson said on Sunday his Virgin Atlantic would fly to Australia via Hong Kong in 2003 and he would float Australian airline Virgin Blue, which he half owns, in the first half of 2003.

"Virgin Atlantic, I hope, will be flying all the way to Australia next year," Branson told Australian television.

"We will finally be able to connect up Virgin Blue with Virgin Atlantic," he said.

London to Australia via Hong Kong would be the longest haul flight Virgin Atlantic [VA] operates.

Branson said he had gained permission from the Australian and British governments for Virgin's "Kangaroo route" and expected Hong Kong authorities to be "flexible".

However, he said an alternative stopover could be Shanghai, where Virgin Atlantic already flies, or Bangkok.

"We are talking about big investments in big route expansions and making sure we can fill in the gaps in Australia and overseas that we are not already flying to," Branson said.

"There are still plenty of routes where the public are over paying," he said, adding Virgin Blue would expand from a domestic carrier to fly international routes to tourist destinations such as Bali and Fiji.

The Sunday Times newspaper reported the Virgin Blue float would have a likely value of up to 520 million sterling ($828 million). It said Branson had hired Goldman Sachs investment bank for the float.

Virgin Blue is half owned by Branson and the other half is owned by Patrick Corp PRK , an Australian transport and logistics group.

"The idea is to bring the public into Virgin Blue sometime in the first half of next year," Branson said.

"It will be a stand alone float of Virgin Blue and I think we have pretty well got everything in place to get that float away."

Branson said he had set Virgin Blue staff a target of A$100 million net profit this year. "I am absolutely confident they can achieve that," he said.

Branson, who owns the larger Virgin Atlantic airline with Singapore Airlines SIAL Ltd., was expected to announce the float when he unveils a 400 million sterling order from U.S-based jet maker Boeing Co BA , said the Sunday Times.

Branson said the last issue to be bedded down was the purchase of 30 to 40 new aircraft. "The plane order is the last thing to lock up before the float," he said, adding the order would be announced in the next four to five weeks.

"It is the best time perhaps in the history of aviation to be buying new planes because after September 11 there aren't many airlines expanding, most airlines are contracting," he said.

"We are confident that by once again by ordering 30 or 40 new planes we can drive our cost base even lower."
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