VIRGIN ENTERS PRICE WAR FRAY

VIRGIN ENTERS PRICE WAR FRAY

VIRGIN Australia has made its intentions clear that it will benefit from the Qantas IR debacle with fares that undercut Qantas by between $120 and $380 a seat.

CEO John Borghetti (pictured) announced the launch of business-class seats on the high-demand Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne triangle route would commence on January 18, 2012.

“Our new business-class product is a key part of our strategy to reposition Virgin Australia as the airline of choice for all market sectors,” says Borghetti.

“Providing an excellent product on the triangle is a key priority for us, with routes such as Melbourne-Sydney among the busiest in the world.”

Introductory one-way flights between Brisbane and Sydney are priced from $579, while Brisbane to Melbourne flights cost at least $885. Airfares include access to Virgin lounges, priority check-in and boarding, Luke Mangan-designed menus and premium alcohol beverages.

It has been a baptism of fire for Borghetti, the man appointed in May last year to lift the former Virgin Blue – now Virgin Australia - out of its slump and on the radar of the burgeoning domestic travel sector.

Retaining a clear vision after the fog of natural disasters, the Navitaire booking system failure in October 2010 and plummeting FY11 profits of $67.8 million will require some dedication.

Borghetti however is au fait with crisis management.

“We’re an airline, it’s never smooth sailing,” he says.

“The important thing in aviation is that there are events that happen in a business. The other thing is that it’s always at the forefront – it’s a very newsworthy industry.

“When you’re repositioning an airline to the extent that Virgin Australia has, it is difficult given the year we have had – natural disasters and trying to initiate as we go through significant change.

“The whole aviation industry has been faced with large scale events, including the price of oil peaking, but with good management and staff we are focussed on the task ahead.”

Almost 18 months into the job at Australia’s No.2 airline and Borghetti has encountered obstacles one might expect to occur over a decade. While large scale challenges still await the former Qantas boss, he is confident of taking the brand skyward while increasing market share and connecting regional Australia. Read the entire story by getting your copy of Brisbane Business News' October issue – out now in more than 500 greater Brisbane newsagencies.

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