Virgin Australia Airlines Pty Ltd, commonly referred to as Virgin Australia, is one of Australia's largest airlines, and it is the largest airline by fleet size to use the Virgin brand. It commenced services on 31 August 2000 as Virgin Blue, with two aircraft on a single route. It suddenly found itself as a major airline in Australia's domestic market after the collapse of Ansett Australia in September 2001. The airline has since grown to directly serve 42 cities in Australia, from hubs in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
|Commenced operations||August 2000 (as Virgin Blue)|
|Company slogan||Feel good flying|
|Parent company||Virgin Australia Holdings|
|Headquarters||Bowen Hills, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia|
In 2011, the airline went through a massive transformation—the changing of their brand to Virgin Australia. This included the introduction of a new aircraft livery, new uniforms, and new on board menu options. New wide-body aircraft were acquired for use to compete with Qantas, and the roll-out of business class across all the Virgin Australia network.
Early years as Virgin Blue (2000–2006)
Virgin Australia was launched as Virgin Blue in August 2000, with two Boeing 737-400 aircraft, one of which was leased from then-sister airline Virgin Express. Initially offering seven return flights a day between Brisbane and Sydney, this has since been expanded to cover all major Australian cities and many holiday destinations. The Virgin Blue name was the result of an open competition; it was a play on the predominantly red livery and the Australian slang tradition of calling a red-headed male 'Blue' or 'Bluey'.
The timing of Virgin Blue's entry into the Australian market was fortunate as it was able to fill the vacuum created by the failure of Ansett Australia in September 2001. Ansett's failure allowed Virgin to grow rapidly to become Australia's second domestic carrier, rather than staying just a cut-price alternative to the established players. It also gave Virgin access to terminal space without which growth would have been significantly limited. Delays in negotiating access to the former Ansett terminal at Sydney Airport however, forced Virgin to use its original terminal there—a collection of prefabricated buildings without aerobridges—longer than was needed. As the airline grew, it acquired new equipment, enabling it to phase-out its older 737-400s in favour of 737-700 and -800 series aircraft with modern glass cockpits, winglets and greater fuel efficiency.
Virgin Group's holding in Virgin Australia has since been reduced, initially via a sale of a half interest to Australian logistics conglomerate Patrick Corporation, and later by a public float. In early 2005 Patrick launched a hostile takeover for Virgin Blue. Patrick had been unhappy for some time with the company's direction. By the closure of the offer, Patrick held 62% of the company, giving it control. Virgin Group retains a 25% share.
In May 2006 Toll Holdings acquired Patrick and became the majority owner of Virgin Blue. In July 2008 Toll sold its majority holding via a special dividend to hold 1.7% of the company. In June 2013 Air New Zealand owned 23% of the company.
Virgin Blue previously used a familiar formula pioneered by airlines such as Southwest Airlines and Ryanair of eliminating costs such as included in-flight meals and printed tickets in favour of selling food on-board and using telephone and internet booking systems. It also cut costs in the past by limiting the number of airports serviced and by operating one type of aircraft, the Boeing 737. This strategy changed with the introduction of a second type into the fleet. The airline ordered 20 Embraer E-jets, in a mix of six E170s and 14 E190s. These were ordered specifically so that the airline could re-enter the Sydney–Canberra market that it abandoned in 2004, and to fly to less populous areas. The first E-170 arrived in Australia in September 2007 and by the end of the year the three on initial order had been delivered. These were placed on limited-frequency services before full-scale operations were launched on 4 February 2008 with services from Sydney to Canberra (branded as 'Capital Jet' services), Mackay in Queensland, and the New South Wales regional centres of Port Macquarie and Albury, which were promoted with a one-cent fare. The flights to Canberra and the regional centres signified an effort to compete more directly with Qantas and its subsidiary QantasLink operation, which flies to all three cities, and with independent Regional Express Airlines.
Codesharing and network consolidation (2006–2010)
At its inception in 2000, Virgin Blue did not have interline or marketing alliances with other airlines. However, after the collapse of its domestic competitor Ansett Australia, it began a codeshare agreement with United Airlines. This allowed United customers to fly from the United States to any of Virgin Blue's Australian destinations that United did not already serve. In 2006, in an effort to compete with Qantas, Virgin Blue started exploring these relationships, forming frequent flyer agreements with Emirates, Hawaiian Airlines and Malaysia Airlines. Virgin Blue also has an Interline Agreement with Regional Express Airlines for travellers to and from smaller regional centres in the eastern states of Australia, and operates its own two routes with Virgin Australia Regional Airlines in Western Australia. In November 2007, the airline announced an agreement with Garuda Indonesia, offering easy transfer from a domestic Virgin Blue flight to an international Garuda Indonesia service departing from Perth, Melbourne, Sydney or Darwin. Since then Virgin Blue also announced an agreement with Vietnam Airlines which allows passengers to fly from Melbourne and Sydney and connect with Vietnam Airlines' destinations through its flight network.
In 2008, premium economy class was introduced throughout its entire fleet. New seating was installed in the first three rows of the cabin. These could be converted from three seats in economy configuration to two seats for premium economy. The premium product offered priority check-in, larger baggage allowance, lounge access, priority boarding, increased legroom and all-inclusive in flight entertainment, meals and beverages on board. The product was aimed at business and corporate customers. The airline began charging economy-class passengers for checked baggage in September 2008. The airline further announced its intention to operate Airbus A330 aircraft between Perth and the East Coast, starting in May 2011.
In December 2010, Virgin Blue entered into alliances with Etihad Airways and Air New Zealand for code-sharing, reciprocal lounge and frequent flyer access and other co-operational projects. Virgin Blue also entered into talks with Delta Air Lines about the possibility of joining SkyTeam, one of the top three alliances in the world, as V Australia and Delta sought approval for an agreement between the two airlines to co-operate on trans-Pacific services. The agreement was rejected by the United States Department of Transportation under United States antitrust law. Upon review the agreement was approved by the United States Department of Transportation on 10 June 2011.
On 20 January 2011, Air New Zealand announced it would take a shareholding stake of between 10% and 14.99% in Virgin Blue. Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe described the investment "as part of Air New Zealand's strategy to develop scale and reach in this region" but said the airline had no intention of making a full takeover.
Launch of V Australia (2008–2011)
In early 2006, Virgin Blue announced its intention to operate up to seven flights a week to the U.S. through either Los Angeles International Airport or San Francisco International Airport. At the time, only Qantas and United Airlines competed in the Australia-US transpacific market. The airline was given permission for ten flights a week to the U.S. by Australian regulators on 24 July 2007. The plans were approved by US regulators on 15 February 2008, due to the signing of an open skies agreement between Australia and the US. Instead of using its existing brand, Virgin Blue launched a fully owned subsidiary with a separate Air Operator's Certificate, named V Australia as the result of a public naming competition, with a fleet of five specifically branded 777-300ERs.
The airline launched flights between Sydney and Los Angeles in 2009, followed by flights from Melbourne and Brisbane since obtaining permission to operate an unlimited number of flights between Australia and the U.S. by the Australian International Air Services Commission. V Australia also applied to the United States Department of Transportation to operate services to San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas, and New York, but these plans never materialised. V Australia later launched flights to Nadi, Phuket and Johannesburg (all of which were discontinued prior to the brand being absorbed into Virgin Australia, although Virgin Australia continued to operate to Phuket until 2015, and still operates to Nadi), and Abu Dhabi to consolidate Virgin Blue's codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways.
Reorganisation and rebranding into Virgin Australia (2011-present)
On 7 May 2010, Brett Godfrey officially stepped down as Virgin Blue CEO after steering the company through its first ten years. John Borghetti, former Qantas executive general manager, took over as the new Chief Executive. Following Borghetti's arrival as CEO, a number of key Qantas staff moved to Virgin Blue while key Virgin Blue staff departed the airline. causing much speculation regarding a forthcoming rebrand or reorganisation of the airline. In February 2011, the re-brand was confirmed when the airline announced that the word 'Blue' would be dropped from its name as part of a campaign to attract more business travellers away from rival Qantas. This came shortly after the unveiling of new crew uniforms and business-class seats. The airline stated that the re-brand would proceed in stages and would reportedly include a new fleet livery and the renaming of the other Virgin Blue Group airlines as well.
On 4 May 2011, the former Virgin Blue revealed its new name, Virgin Australia, as well as its new livery. In addition to the new name, branding and livery, the airline also showed off its new flagship the Airbus A330 with new domestic business class. Boeing 737 business class seating was also revealed, to be introduced on all of Virgin's jet aircraft by the end of 2011. Pacific Blue and V Australia were both folded into the new Virgin Australia brand, following an agreement with former Virgin Atlantic shareholder Singapore Airlines, which ever since the establishment of Virgin Blue in 2000 had previously prohibited use of the Virgin brand outside Australia.
Early in 2011 it was announced that Virgin Blue had signed a ten-year deal with Perth-based regional airline Skywest Airlines, for Skywest to operate up to 18 turboprop aircraft leased by Virgin, in order to better compete in east coast regional markets served by QantasLink and Regional Express Airlines. The turboprops would supplement the existing Embraer E-190s and replace the E-170s, which would be phased out due to their being uneconomical on the routes operated by Virgin.
In October 2011, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) approved a proposed code-share alliance between Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Virgin Australia, subject to other regulatory approvals in both countries.
On 31 May 2016, Chinese aviation holding company HNA Group agreed to purchase 13% of Virgin Australia Holdings for A$159 million, subject to authorisation from the ACCC, a stake which HNA Group ultimately intends to increase to 19.99%. The deal also created a codeshare partnership between Virgin Australia and Chinese airlines in which HNA Group holds shares, on routes between Australia and China. Virgin intended to launch flights between Australian destinations and Beijing and Hong Kong by 2017 to consolidate the agreement.
By October 2016, Air New Zealand was no longer a Virgin Australia shareholder after selling its remaining 2.5 per cent stake for A$65.7 million to investors including the Nanshan Group. On 4 April 2018, Air New Zealand announced the end of the code- and revenue-sharing partnership with Virgin Australia, effective 28 October 2018.
On 12 June 2018, Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti confirmed that he would leave the airline before the end of his contract in January 2020. Borghetti, who became CEO in May 2010, mentioned that his initial plans were to stay in the position for three to four years, however the company's growth and success prompted him to say on. In February 2019 Paul Scurrah was announced as Borghetti's successor, with Scurrah commencing as CEO on 25 March 2019.
Virgin Australia's head office is in Virgin Village in Bowen Hills, Brisbane. As of 2008 1,000 employees work at Virgin Village. The building, with about 13,220 square metres (142,300 sq ft) A-Grade office space, was triple net leased to Virgin Blue.
As the airline started operations, it decided to place its head office in the Brisbane area. Brett Godfrey, the airline co-founder and Chief Executive for 10 years, said in 2006 that the decision "was a long considered one and has worked well." The airline originally had its head office in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. The airline purchased a $61 million site in Bowen Hills for its new head office. The firm Sunland Group, which had acquired the Bowen Hills site for $8 million in 2005, had scheduled to complete the new head office in March, and the airline would be ready to move into the new head office by August of the following year. The current head office facility, Virgin Village, formally opened on 17 October 2008.
In September 2003, Pacific Blue was set up to offer a low-cost service between New Zealand and Australia. Pacific Blue aimed to position itself as a low-cost competitor to Air New Zealand and Qantas on trans-Tasman routes. Pacific Blue also operated services on behalf of the Polynesian Blue joint-venture with the government of Samoa. Pacific Blue has since been rebranded under the Virgin Australia name and livery.
In early 2006, Virgin Blue's parent company announced its intention to operate up to seven flights a week to the United States using either Los Angeles International Airport or San Francisco International Airport, saying that the route was needed to make the airline as profitable as possible. On 25 July 2007, it was announced that "V Australia" would be the name of the new carrier.
On 30 October 2012, Virgin Australia Holdings announced it had purchased a 60% stake in Tiger Airways Australia for $35 million. Tiger would continue to operate as a low cost subsidiary for 20 years. In October 2014 Virgin took full control of Tigerair for one dollar.
On 11 April 2013, Virgin Australia Holdings completed its acquisition of regional airline Skywest Airlines. Skywest was then renamed Virgin Australia Regional Airlines.
Marketing and sponsorship
Since its inception, Virgin Blue had sponsored many sporting teams in a bid to promote its brand. In February 2007, Virgin Blue signed a two-year sponsorship deal with NRL team the South Sydney Rabbitohs. The Rabbitohs were the first rugby league team Virgin Australia sponsored. One of the airline's Boeing 737-800s had slight changes to its livery to commemorate this sponsorship; the Australian flag held by the "Virgin Girl" was replaced by the Rabbitohs' flag. Virgin Australia is also the official sponsor of the National Basketball League (NBL), and the title sponsor of NBL team the Brisbane Bullets.
Virgin Blue gained extra revenue (and publicity) by painting two aircraft as "flying billboards". One promoted a brand of men's razor, the other a Queensland Government campaign to attract businesses to the state. Both aircraft have since been withdrawn from the Virgin Blue fleet.
In 2007 Virgin Blue introduced an advertising campaign with the slogan "Get What You Want", named after the song by Queensland band Operator Please that featured in its TV advertisements. In 2009, Virgin Blue introduced an all new advertising campaign entitled "Now there's an idea". TV Commercials showing comparisons between flying in Australia in 1999 as opposed to 2009 were screened, to the tune a song by The Cat Empire. New billboard advertising was launched, showcasing Virgin Blue's variety of products and on-time performance records.
Virgin Australia became a sponsor of the newest AFL clubs, the Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney Giants, in 2011 and 2014 respectively. Virgin Australia also appear as a sponsor on the guernseys of the Carlton Football Club since June 2017 initially due to the loss of a sponsor of the club, but Carlton announced in August 2017 that the partnership will be extended until the end of the 2022 AFL season. In 2016, the airline reached an agreement with V8 Supercars to rename the annual motorsport series to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship starting 1 July.
The airline has won a number of awards since its inception. It and certain of its employees won five 2009 service excellence awards of the Customer Service Institute of Australia. Since being named as best low-cost airline in the Asia/Pacific region in the Skytrax 2002 Airline of the Year Survey, the airline has been voted best airline in a number of different categories and by a number of different organisations.
As an employer, Virgin Australia was recognised as the most attractive employer in Australia in 2015 at the annual Randstad Award. It also placed in the top 3 for the previous five years, including a top spot in 2011.
The airline's frequent flyer program, Velocity Rewards (now Velocity Frequent Flyer), won the 2009 Freddie Awards for best frequent flyer program, best award redemption, best affinity credit card, best member communications and best website. This was the fourth consecutive Freddie Awards that Velocity won.
Velocity Frequent Flyer won the 2018 Freddie Awards for program of the year, best elite program, best customer service and best redemption ability. This was the sixth consecutive year that Velocity won the best redemption ability award.
As of October 2019, Virgin Australia has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:
Initially, Virgin Australia leased its aircraft, but recent additions to the fleet have been purchased outright. Virgin Australia-owned Boeing 737s are indicated by the Boeing customer code FE in the model suffix. Aircraft formerly owned by V Australia are indicated by ZG in the model suffix.
In November 2006, Virgin Blue announced plans to purchase 11 Embraer 190 and three Embraer 170 aircraft with options for six more E-jets, which later became orders for an additional three E170s and three E190s. In February 2008 a further four E190s were ordered, leaving six options and ten purchase rights. Virgin Blue received its first Embraer 170 in early September 2007 at a special ceremony at the Embraer plant in Sao Jose dos Campos. A revised logo was introduced on the tail, bringing the Virgin Blue brand into line with the logos of other Virgin-branded companies.
Like Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia gives the aircraft in its fleet names, previously incorporating female names and words connected with Australian cities and localities or other quintessentially Australian themes. Recent additions to the fleet have featured names of famous Australian beaches. Names on Virgin Australia aircraft include 'Brissie Lizzie' ("Brissie" being an Australian slang name for Brisbane, and "Lizzie" being slang for Elizabeth), 'Sassy Sydney' (Sydney is a female name as well as the name of Australia's largest city), 'Prue Blue' (incorporating the name Prudence and also a pun on the Australian phrase "true blue", meaning "patriotic"), 'Tassie Tigress' (incorporating both the slang name for Tasmania and the common name for the thylacine) and 'Mackay-be Diva' (a pun on the city of Mackay, Queensland and Makybe Diva, a famous Australian racehorse). Beaches which have aircraft named after them include Cable Beach, Cottesloe Beach and Bondi Beach. Each aircraft in the Virgin Australia livery (some were painted in Pacific Blue livery for cross-promotional reasons) also features a "virgin girl" as nose art, complete with a wide-brimmed Aussie hat, trailing an Australian flag.
On 24 October 2007, Virgin Australia announced the introduction of premium economy on all domestic flights. As the e-jets already have four-abreast seating, the number of seats on these aircraft remained unchanged after the rollout of premium economy.
Virgin Australia began long haul international operations as V Australia, commencing its first passenger flight operations on 27 February 2009. V Australia was re-branded as Virgin Australia's Long Haul International Operations on 7 December 2011.
On 10 January 2011, Virgin Blue entered a 10-year strategic alliance with Perth-based Skywest Airlines (now Virgin Australia Regional Airlines), to operate up to 18 new Virgin-branded turboprop aircraft from mid-2011. On 23 February, it was announced that the aircraft would be ATR-72s, to enter service beginning in May 2011; they would allow Virgin Australia to both replace its fleet of Embraer 170s and introduce new regional routes. The turboprops would be operated by Skywest Airlines under a wet lease agreement. The May in-service date was not met, and in late July the first announcement was made concerning routes to be served. It was reported that the ATR-72s would be initially employed on services between Brisbane and Gladstone, Queensland; from Brisbane and Sydney to Port Macquarie in New South Wales; and on additional services between Sydney and Canberra.
On 25 January 2012, Virgin Australia announced additional services between Brisbane, Proserpine, Rockhampton and Cairns. It wet leased two Fokker 100s from Alliance Airlines to operate these services. On 26 February 2013, Virgin Australia announced it would start flights between Brisbane and Bundaberg on 4 May 2013.
|ATR 72-600||8||—||—||—||68||68||Registered to Virgin Australia Regional Airlines|
|Boeing 737-800||73||—||8||—||168||176||Fifteen registered to Virgin Australia International Airlines .|
Some aircraft to be transferred to Tigerair Australia
|Boeing 737 MAX 8||—||23||To be delivered from February 2025|
|Boeing 737 MAX 10||—||25||TBA||To be delivered from July 2021|
|Boeing 777-300ER||5||—||37||24||278||339||All registered to Virgin Australia International Airlines|
An agreement was signed with Boeing on 1 April 2010 for an order of fifty firm Boeing 737-800 aircraft, with flexibility to convert to either Boeing 737-700s or Boeing 737-900ERs; as well as 25 additional options and 30 future purchase rights. Deliveries were scheduled to be completed in 2017. In July 2012, Virgin Australia announced an order for 23 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, with deliveries planned to be between 2019 and 2021. Virgin converted its outstanding order for 17 Boeing 737-800 aircraft to the MAX model in 2015, bringing the total order for this type to 40 aircraft. In August 2018, Virgin converted 10 of its 737 MAX 8 orders for the larger MAX 10 variant. Deliveries of the MAX 10 will begin in 2022. In April 2019, the airline deferred deliveries and converted 15 MAX 8 orders to the larger MAX 10 variant. Deliveries of the MAX 10 will now start in 2021, while MAX 8's are not expected until 2025.
Virgin Australia Cargo was launched in July 2015 after the airline's contract to carry freight on behalf of Toll expired and was not renewed. The airline signed a five-year carriage contract with TNT in 2016 and operations of dedicated freighter aircraft commenced on 4 July the same year.
|Boeing 737-300F||Wet leased from Airwork|
|British Aerospace 146-200QC||Wet leased from Pionair Australia|
|British Aerospace 146-200QT||Wet leased from Pionair Australia|
Domestic and short-haul international operations
Virgin Australia offers a business class service on most of its jet aircraft. The seat pitch on the Airbus aircraft is 150 cm (59 in); and is 95 cm (37 in) on its Boeing 737-800 fleet. It also offers an international suite-style experience on the Airbus A330 with 20 Suites in a 1-2-1 layout which electronically convert to a lie flat bed. This service is offered on coast to coast services between Perth and Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney.
Premium economy seats were fitted to a small number of the airline's Boeing 737-800 aircraft flying Trans Tasman routes, featuring an 85 cm (33 in) seat pitch. These have been phased out in favour of business class since April 2015
Economy seats offer 80 cm (31 in) seat pitch.
International long-haul operations
Virgin Australia offers a three-class service on its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft: International Business Class, International Premium Economy Class and International Economy Class. All three classes feature ambient Mood Lighting relative to the time of day or night, similar to that of sister airline Virgin America.
International business class
International business class has a 1–2–1 configuration with fully horizontal flat beds that are 188 cm (74.0 in) long with a seat pitch of 77 in (195.6 cm). There is a personal workstation with laptop power, USB slot and reading light. Business class in-flight entertainment features a 12.1 in (30.7 cm) touchscreen PTV with AVOD on every seat. This will be phased out in 2016 and replaced by "The Business" Suite offered on its A330 fleet. 'The Business' service is offered on international services between Sydney or Melbourne and Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane and Los Angeles, as well as seasonal services to Fiji.
International premium economy class
Premium economy class has a 2–4–2 configuration. Premium economy has all-leather seats with a 38 in (96.5 cm) seat pitch, 20 in (50.8 cm) seat width and a 9 in (22.9 cm) seat recline. The seats are equipped with adjustable headrests and footrests. There is a personal workstation with laptop power, USB slot and reading light. Premium economy class in-flight entertainment has a 10.6 in (26.9 cm) touchscreen PTV with AVOD on every seat.
International economy class
International economy class has a 3–3–3 configuration on the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, while a 2-4-2 configuration is used on the smaller Airbus A330-200. Economy seats have a 32 in (81.3 cm) seat pitch, 18.8 in (47.8 cm) seat width and seat recline up to 6 in (15 cm). USB slots are available to power smartphones and other personal devices (MP3 Players etc.). Economy class in-flight entertainment features a 9 in (23 cm) touchscreen PTV with AVOD on every seat.
Food and beverages
Virgin Australia offers business class passengers a "sophisticated" gourmet menu created by Australian chef Luke Mangan. For lunch and dinner this includes a full three course meal prepared on board by the crew.
The food menu is accompanied by a premium range of Australian wines, beers and spirits and non-alcoholic beverages, including barista style coffee.
In Economy Class, the airline serves complimentary snacks & non-alcoholic beverages to all passengers on all domestic Virgin Australia flights, in addition complimentary beer and wine is offered on all services between capital cities departing between 5pm and 7pm. On flights between the East Coast and Perth, and all international flights complimentary hot meals and beverages are offered to all Economy passengers.
On all domestic flights and on short-haul international routes, a buy on board service with additional food and drinks available for purchase is offered from a separate menu by Luke Mangan which includes a gourmet range of snacks, meals and beverages. The menu is available on all domestic & short-haul international flights and on selected flights passengers also have access to hot snacks, hot meals and speciality products such as gourmet ice cream.
In December 2006, Virgin Australia (as Virgin Blue) announced a partnership between Australian cable television providers Foxtel and Austar, to introduce a "Live2Air" service on most flights by mid-2007. The Live2Air system was only available on selected Boeing 737 aircraft, and was phased out beginning in 2012.
Virgin Australia's Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A330-200 aircraft's in-flight entertainment RED is based on the Panasonic eX2 system. RED is fully touch-screen and handset controlled. There is no fee for use. RED features an extensive video on demand library that includes new release film, TV series and TV programmes. Destination guides are available. Other functions available through RED include music on demand (approx 200+ CD library) and video games. Seat-to-seat chat is available as well as in flight map and flight information.
In December 2012 Virgin Australia introduced an in-flight Wi-Fi system to provide music, movies and TV shows to tablets, smartphones, laptops and similar devices. The system, which does not offer internet access, is estimated to be fitted on all the airline's planes within 2 years.
Virgin Australia lounge
To capture a share of the business traveller market, Virgin decided to provide a members' lounge facility for travellers. Originally this was called The Blue Room and provided facilities to members and guests on a pay-as-you-go basis. Many of these facilities became available when Virgin relocated into the former Ansett terminals across the country, with the defunct Golden Wing club lounges left behind being used as Blue Room lounges, complete with furnishings.
In 2006, Virgin revamped the lounge facilities and re-launched the product as The Lounge, which offered all-inclusive facilities on a membership fee or casual fee basis. Upgraded facilities provided included buffet food and refreshments, newspapers, showers, computers, and WiFi internet access for travellers.
In May 2011, Virgin again renamed the lounge simply referring to it as Virgin Australia lounge – designed to be a premium experience, with spaces designed for specific uses and 'moods'.
Velocity Frequent Flyer
Virgin Australia launched its frequent-flyer program Velocity Rewards in 2005, with partner National Australia Bank offering a companion credit card. By 2007, points collected from selected Westpac, American Express and Diners Club cards could be transferred to Velocity Rewards, and effective September 2008, ANZ reward visa card points as well. The program reached 4 million members by the end of 2014.
Status levels were introduced to the program in late 2007 as part of continued efforts to attract business travellers. Alongside the entry-level "red" status, frequent travellers were given the opportunity to attain "silver" and "gold" status, each with its own set of benefits.
Initially, Velocity was different from most other frequent flyer programs, as points were earned relative to the cost of a flight, rather than distance. Velocity members originally earned 6 points per dollar spent on Virgin Australia flights. This was later altered due to the introduction of status levels; Red members now earned 5 points per dollar, Silver members remained at 6 points, and Gold members earned 7. Points accrual on V Australia, as well as the majority of Velocity's airline partners, have always based on distance.
Velocity was the first frequent flyer program in Australia to offer "any seat, any time" reward flight availability. The number of points required to redeem an award seat directly corresponds to the current fare of that seat, allowing any seat currently available to be redeemed. Qantas introduced a similar feature to their frequent flyer program in May 2008.
In August 2011, the program was relaunched as "Velocity Frequent Flyer" and a platinum status level was introduced, among other changes.
In July 2013, Velocity introduced the Global Wallet function, which was the first prepaid traveller card in Australia. The key feature of this card is it allows you to load your money and store it in other supported currencies before travelling. You can access to ATMs around the world as well as shop at anywhere where visa is accepted. Supported currencies include Australian Dollar (AUD), Canadian Dollar (CAD), Euro (EUR), Pound Sterling (GBP), Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), Japanese Yen (JPY), New Zealand Dollar (NZD), Singapore Dollar (SGD), Thai Baht (THB), US Dollar (USD) and South African Rand (ZAR). You also earn 1 Velocity Point per $1 spent overseas and 1 point per $2 spent in Australia.
- In 2003, a man with a disability and having incomplete quadriplegia was removed from a Virgin Blue flight because staff thought he was drunk or a terrorist. He subsequently settled a lawsuit against the airline.
- In October 2005, the airline lost a discrimination case over the age of flight attendants they employed. Eight former flight attendants aged over 34 previously employed by the collapsed Ansett Australia had applied for employment with Virgin Blue but none had gained work. They claimed they were discriminated against because of their age and won compensation in March 2006. The airline's appeal against this decision failed and the company was ordered to pay costs.
- In May 2006, a controversy arose over Virgin Blue's policy with regard to passengers with disabilities. Former Chief Executive Brett Godfrey affirmed the policy of the company that passengers who were "unable to look after themselves on board should travel with carers". After a hearing in the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Virgin Blue backed down from this policy, agreeing to limit it to passengers weighing over 130 kg. However the chair of the ACT Disability Advisory Council, Craig Wallace, who uses a wheelchair, was refused passage on a Virgin Blue flight booked for 8 October 2006. In a media release on 29 September, ACTDAC claimed that "Virgin Blue has also refused to refund $418 in fares from the flight for Mr Wallace or Council staff. Ironically, they have listed these fares as a 'credit' – a credit Mr Wallace or other people in his situation are prohibited from accessing by Virgin's own policy".
- In January 2007, Virgin Blue attracted controversy when its staff at Adelaide Airport ordered a passenger to remove a T-shirt bearing the slogan "World's Number One Terrorist" above an image of George W. Bush. The wearer, Allen Jasson from London, was informed that the garment was potentially offensive. Jasson had also experienced difficulty on earlier flights with Qantas. A spokeswoman for Virgin Blue defended the decision.
- In January 2011, the airline was fined $110,000 after breaking anti-spamming regulations. Consumers complained they were unable to unsubscribe from the airline's mailing list. The Australian Communications and Media Authority said the airline would "Engage an independent third party to thoroughly assess its email marketing processes and to implement any recommended changes."
- Virgin Australia's policy of not allowing male passengers to sit next to children travelling alone for fear of child molestation has been criticised by persons concerned as act of discrimination against men (Airline sex discrimination policy controversy). Following a public outcry, the company announced it would review its policy.
- In mid-2014, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took legal action against Virgin Australia in respect of drip pricing.
- From their foundation until January 2013, Virgin Blue/Virgin Australia and Pacific Blue used the IATA code 'DJ'. From its foundation Virgin Australia International Airlines (formerly known as V Australia) operated under a different IATA code, 'VA'. Use of the two codes continued from the May 2011 company reorganisation and rebranding until January 2013, with the long-haul flights operated by the Boeing 777 fleet using the 'VA' code. In January 2013 use of the IATA code 'DJ' was discontinued and all flights now use the code 'VA'.
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