Virgin Australia – New Owners

After 7 months of struggling, the airline will officially pass over to the new owners Bain Capital. The company has a mountain of debt and had collapsed into administration. Virgin Australia has undergone many changes over the past decade. It debuted back in 2000 as Virgin Blue. Then in 2009, we saw the sibling international full-service airline V Australia.

2011 saw the rebranding to Virgin Australia which included fully-flat beds on east-west routes. Now in 2020, we see a new change under Bain capital. It will become more “value-orientated” taking a broad mid-market position. There will be fewer airport lounges and a smaller domestic and international network and unfortunately, a pared-back frequent flyer program.

Billionaire Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, has halved his 10 percent share in Virgin Australia. In a statement, Branson said he was “enormously proud” of the airline. He also said, “I’m delighted that Virgin Australia is ready for take off once more, soaring out of administration, with a clear future direction to fly towards”. “We’re very optimistic about the future and enormously proud of all of the Virgin Australia team,” he said.

There will be some changes as the carrier rebrands itself to a mid-market carrier under Bain Capital. Economy, Economy X and Business class will stay however, complimentary snacks will be replaced by purchase food. The Darwin, Mackay and Cairns lounges will be closed and we won’t know the details of its Business Class product until 2021. Good news for Frequent Flyer members as there will be no material change to the velocity program under Bain.

Regional Express – Business Class on Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane flights from 2021

From early 2021, Regional Express will offer Business Class on its Boeing 737 flights between Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. The plan is to extend this to 40 jets that will link every capital city across Australia.

Rex Chairman Lim Kim Hai revealed at CAPA live conference in Singapore that March 1, 2021, would be the debut of Sydney-Melbourne flight. They will begin with nine daily return flights. In April, Brisbane will join the network. Lim said, “If we see things tracking well, we will start increasing the fleet gradually and constantly”. “From July onwards, if the environment is favourable, we will be constantly adding aircraft in, at the rate of one every month or one every six weeks”. Lim went on to say “As we bring in more aircraft, we will go to all the other capital cities and major cities in Australia. It’s an opportunity, but not a certainty yet”.

R3ex Deputy Chairman John Sharp elaborated with “By the end of 2022…. Rex’s ambition is to be a sizeable domestic airline operator with a fleet of 30 or maybe 40, maybe even more narrow-bodies single-aisle aircraft operating on the domestic network around Australia”. Rex will also be adding Business class as well as lounges.

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