Virgin Australia is on the fast track to a 20% share of the domestic business travel market following Qantas' snap decision last Saturday to ground all flights.
Although the shutdown gambit appears to have been a successful circuit-breaker against ongoing union disputes, the move could cost Qantas dearly in terms of the profitable corporate travel sector.
Speaking on Bloomberg TV yesterday, Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti said his airline now looks to reach that 20% target – which would represent a doubling of its current market share – ahead of his planned 2014 mile marker.
Borghetti said that Virgin carried an extra 30,000 travellers during the 48 hour shutdown, and "it’s up to us now to ensure that we follow up and try to keep as many people that flew with us on the weekend as possible.”
As Australian Business Traveller reported earlier this week, Virgin Australia has extended a special 'double status credit' promotion through to January 31, 2012, with flights on Virgin partner airlines such as Etihad, Air New Zealand, Delta, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and Malaysia Airlines all eligible.
For its part, Qantas aims to win back its lost passengers through a marketing blitz which began with full-page advertisements is several Australian newspapers today.
"Since the industrial action is over, no more aircraft can be grounded and no service cancelled ... You can now book Qantas flights with confidence and certainty" the ad assured readers.
They also teased that "If you're one of our customers directly affected by the grounding, you can look forward to a special thank-you, to be announced soon."
Beyond that unspecified "special thank-you" for stranded passengers, Qantas is also expected a range of discounted ticket prices (especially to international destinations), even more flexible fares and possibly a 'double status credit' promotion under which frequent flyers can earn twice the usual number of status credits for each booking.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.