Virgin Blue CEO John Borghetti is reportedly set to present a new business plan for the airline to its board this week, which will include plans to introduce business class and possibly widebody aircraft on short haul services and the adoption of a new name as the airline group plans to increase its share of the lucrative corporate market.
According to a report in The West Australian by AA contributor Geoffrey Thomas, Borghetti will present a plan to offer dedicated business class in place of the current premium economy product on Virgin Blue and Pacific Blue services as the carrier aims to gain a greater share of the corporate market which is dominated by Qantas. The airline is also likely to consider bringing on widebody aircraft on some domestic Australia services, with some analysts suggesting that Airbus A330s or Boeing 767s could be added in the short term ahead of a likely order for 787s. New uniforms for staff are also on the agenda.
Borghetti is also likely to push to bring the airline group’s three brands – Virgin Blue, Pacific Blue and V Australia – together under the Virgin Australia name. For a number of years, the use of the Virgin brand in the Pacific outside of Australia had been vetoed due to an agreement between Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Singapore Airlines, but some sources indicate that a compromise may have been reached. In an interview last year with AA, previous CEO Brett Godfrey noted that he had been working on merging the three flying brands together.
The reports come only weeks after Borghetti told analysts that Virgin Blue’s push into premium economy had been only marginally successful. The airline is also understood to have been involved in a major review of its routes, which will likely see it withdraw from some leisure markets.