Virgin Australia's CEO John Borghetti has revealed his plans for the airline through the end of this year and into 2012 at today's Annual General Meeting, and there's some great news for business travellers.
Australian Business Traveller has sorted through the usual financial and technical AGM guff about procurement frameworks and financial discipline for what's really relevant to you.
New lounges: Sydney, Gold Coast, Mackay
"I'm pleased to announce today that we will commence work on a new flagship lounge at Sydney domestic airport," Borghetti confirmed.
This much-needed update to the rather tired Sydney lounge will be a split-level lounge -- we've already got all the details here.
Virgin will also launch two new lounges in Queensland, at Mackay and in the Gold Coast. If they're anything like the stylish lounges designed by Tim Greer of Tonkin Zulaikha Greer in Melbourne and Brisbane, business travellers will be pleased with the results.
Better systems to recognise customers
New computer systems systems (called SabreSonic) will "recognise our guests and provide them with a seamless integrated travel across the Virgin Australia and partner airline networks." Borghetti promised. "Using the Sabre system will enable us to support integrated ticketing with our Alliance partners, and provide an elevated level of recognition for our customers."
That might seem a bit techy, but it should mean more standardised reciprocal benefits with partners like Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand, which has been patchy in our (and many of our readers') experience.
More corporate travellers and frequent flyers
Borghetti is also gunning for your travel contract in 2012 if you're in the corporate and government markets. In the 2011 financial year Virgin snared 39 new corporate accounts, and corporate/government passengers hit 13 percent of the airline's revenue -- but Borghetti wants more.
Virgin Australia is already on the fast track to a 20% share of the domestic business travel market following Qantas' well-documented woes over the past months.
The airline's Velocity frequent flyer program now has 2.75 million program members, up 250,000 from last financial year.
"Our recent Velocity Frequent Flyer program status match offer was very successful, with thousands upon thousands of matches, a large percentage of which were for either Platinum or Gold tiers," Borghetti said, also quoting "a significant number of Chairman’s Lounge members."
Borghetti & co are well aware they need to continue packing Velocity with benefits in order to help keep all those active members on the books, so look for more to come in what's already an aggressively competitive frequent flyer scheme.
Revamped international aircraft
There's good news for international passengers too. "By the end of Financial Year 2012 we will reveal the revamp of our international aircraft," Borghetti said.
Virgin Australia's international arms are V Australia, Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue. Borghetti also confirmed today that, "by the end of this calendar year, our domestic and international businesses will operate under the name Virgin Australia."
V Australia itself is already gearing up for a busy 2012, with a terminal change at Los Angeles LAX our pick for "best plan for the year".
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.