Virgin Australia has launched business class service on most domestic routes as it seeks to lure corporate travelers away from Qantas.
The airline’s upscale cabins went into service yesterday, with business class fares starting at $429 one way and $529 from Sydney to Melbourne. An economy saver fare between Australia’s two largest cities starts at $99.
Virgin launched business class service on trans-continental flights late last year, with tickets for the rest of its business class network going on sale in November.
The move comes as Virgin completes a transition from budget carrier to full service airline and seeks to gain ground on a weakened Qantas still struggling to emerge from a damaging labour row.
In a statement, the airline said the launch would give Australian business class travellers a choice for the first time since Ansett collapsed in 2001.
“Last year we announced our commitment to bringing competition to business class travel in Australia and today we have done just that, ahead of the return of business travellers in February,” Virgin Australia group executive of commercial Liz Savage said.
The new premium cabins include leather seats, a gourmet food and beverage service, complimentary access to Virgin lounges and priority security screening, check-in and boarding. Business class travel will be eligible for double frequent flyer points between January 26 and February 29.
Virgin said it will also begin offering free beer and wine to economy passengers travelling between Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney between 4pm and 7pm Monday through Friday.