Virgin Blue will start flying its first Airbus A330 aircraft with the airline's new business class seats on a daily return between Sydney and Perth on 26 May, moving to three flights daily by July.
The airline is offering special one-way pricing between Sydney and Perth of $139 in Economy and $1399 in business class.
The economy fare of $139 is available while it lasts between 26 May and 22 June, and rises to $158 for flights between 27 July and 15 September.
Business class passengers get a few extra perks in addition to leather seats with 62 inches of legroom plus seat-back screens for in-flight entertainment.
Meals from a new menu by Luke Mangan will come free of charge with the menu including a Petuna Tasmanian ocean trout with asparagus and a salad of fennel, Caprese salad and a cheese board.
Another bonus will be limousine transfer to and from Sydney airport with a 60km limit – which basically covers north to Palm Beach, west to Blacktown and south-west to Camden. Travellers will need to make their own arrangements in Perth.
Members of Virgin Blue's Velocity Rewards programme who book two round-trip business class tickets on the new flights will also receive complimentary Velocity Gold status for one year.
The business class cabin on Virgin Blue's A330s consists of 27 seats in four rows, three of which have a 2-3-2 layout (behind a single 2-2-2- row); economy seats conform to the more common 2-4-2 layout.
Is business class worth paying ten times the price of an economy fare? Virgin Blue CEO John Borghetti reckons so.
"For the first time in almost a decade, travellers will have a choice in Business Class within the Australian domestic market" Borghetti says. "With our excellent service, luxury leather seating, 62 inch Business Class seat pitch, multi-channel in-flight entertainment and our range of high quality meals designed by Luke Mangan, Virgin Blue’s Airbus A330 service will provide an unparalleled experience in Australian skies."
Here's the full schedule:
26 May-5 June
Flights leave Sydney at 0800 and return from Perth at 1300
6 June-3 July
Flights leave Sydney at 0800 and 1730, and return from Perth at 1300 and 1755.
4 July onwards
Flights leave Sydney at 0700, 1730 and 2000, and return from Perth at 0545, 1230 and 2355.
Today's announcement is a cornerstone in Borghetti's ambitious 'Game Change' programme which aims to transform Virgin Blue into a full-service airline capable of taking on Qantas at every level, especially in the lucrative business travel market.
This has already included:
- New business class seats with 62 inches of legroom and seat-back video screens
- A 'fast-track' lounge at Sydney Airport
- Inflight meals by Aussie superchef Luke Mangan
- Stylish new uniforms for Virgin Blue flight attendants and crew
- Alliances with Etihad and Air New Zealand to develop Virgin Blue's international backbone
- the introduction of inflight Internet within 2 - 3 years
Still to come is a new brand, although we know the 'Blue' will be dropped; and an overhaul of the Velocity frequent flyer rewards program.
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.