LONDON – After finalizing the sale of Virgin Australia (VA) on Tuesday, the new owners have revealed what the revamped version of VA will look like. The airline has claimed it will compete in its heartland mid-market for guests who want a more premium experience at an affordable and competitive price.
Speaking on her first day in charge of VA, the new CEO; Jayne Hrdlicka said, “Australia already has a low-cost carrier and a traditional full-service airline and we won’t be either. Virgin Australia will be a mid-market carrier appealing to customers who are after a great value airfare and better service”.
Major Elements of the Plan
According to Simple Flying, upon revealing its new plan, the airline told passengers that they could expect the following:
• A commitment to retain a domestic market share of roughly one third (as was pre-COVID);
• A network of lounges to open as travel demand resumes, with the Brisbane Lounge re-opening today;
• A new-look Virgin Australia Lounge of the future will open in Adelaide in early 2021, which will roll out across the lounge network over time;
• Creating a more accessible Business Class offering to better align to the expectations of the cabin’s core customers;
• New self-service and assisted check-in and baggage drop facilities will open at mainline airports;
• The launch of an updated and more integrated Virgin Australia app providing an enhanced guest experience for Velocity Frequent Flyer members;
• A comprehensive network of domestic and regional destinations; and
• A commitment to regional Australia including the restructuring of Virgin Australia Regional Airlines to become a more sustainable and profitable business following a comprehensive business review.
The airline has confirmed that it will offer three classes of seat onboard – Economy, Economy-x and Business. The airline has also added that a new buy onboard menu will replace the existing complimentary snack next year and that customers will continue to be offered complimentary tea, coffee and water.
In-flight WiFi and Inflight Entertainment remains under review and more details will be announced in 2021.
Lounges to Re-Open
The airline has confirmed that the airline’s lounges will re-open at Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Gold Coast. The airline claims that as government-imposed travel restrictions ease and travel demand resumes, the domestic lounges will open at airports where high volumes of frequent flyers travel.
Virgin Australia’s first-to-market Premium Entry feature will remain and lounge membership will be extended for 12 months from the original expiry date.
Initially, the lounges will offer guests with an interim food and drink menu which will be reviewed as the lounge network gradually re-opens and passenger volumes return. The airline claims that the offerings will adhere to COVID-safe protocols and will include fresh and pre-made food.
Unfortunately, due to low visitor numbers, the airline has confirmed that the Darwin, Cairns, and Mackay lounges will close. The Canberra lounge remains under review.
New Lounges, Similar Service Overall
The recently built Adelaide Lounge will open in Q1 2021. The lounge is a prototype of the Virgin Australia Lounge of the future and will provide passengers with an experience and aesthetic more aligned to the Virgin brand. The new design of lounge will roll out to the lounge network over time.
The airline’s announcement was widely expected and anticipated following the completion of the sale process. Regular travelers wanted some reassurance about the airline’s future direction following the challenges faced by the airline of the recent months.
Overall, the announcement suggests that not all that much will change for passengers. Ms. Hrdlicka said VA will continue to evolve its offering but reassured customers “the Virgin Australia experience millions of travelers know and love is here to stay.”
Featured image: Brandon Farris