Virgin Australia delays new A330 business class to mid-year

Virgin Australia delays new A330 business class to mid-year

Virgin Australia's launch of its next-generation business class seats has been pushed back to mid-year, extending Qantas' valuable lead-time as the two airlines fight for premium passengers on the lucrative east-west market.

Virgin originally planned to have the extra-wide and extra-long lie-flat beds (below) debut in March, with all six of the twin-aisle Airbus A330 jets upgraded by August.

Read: Up close with Virgin Australia's new business class seats

However, Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti says the roll-out will now begin in "the middle of the year," a potential three month delay from the previously-slated launch date.

"In all of these programs there are always some issues you find along the way that you need to adjust, but it's not just issues" Borghetti told Australian Business Traveller during a media briefing on the airline's financial results for the first half of the 2015 financial year.

"But you also find some things you can make a little better, so you take the time and tweak that."

Borghetti maintains that "the completion of the program in August is absolutely still on track. We are very confident that in August the whole fleet will be done."

Borghetti wouldn't be drawn on a more specific date for the new A330 business class inaugural. "We do have a date that we want to launch it, but we want to make a big song and dance about it, so we’re not going to reveal it today."

A similar upgrade for Virgin's international Boeing 777s which fly to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi remains on track for November 2015, with the airline saying this would be completed “within three months.”

"On the Pacific route from Australia to Los Angeles this will be the business class to beat," Borghetti has previously said.

Like the Qantas Business Suite, Virgin's new business class adopts a 1-2-1 layout to provide direct aisle access for every passenger.

It also packs plenty of room to work and stow your carry-on kit plus a large (16-18 inch) HD video screen.

Read: Up close with Virgin Australia's new business class seats

Qantas is already flying two domestic A330s fitted with its new Business Suite (below), with a third to join the fleet in early April to bolster the Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Perth routes and upgrade selected Brisbane-Perth flights.

Exclusive AusBT review: The Qantas Airbus A330 Business Suite

The Flying Kangaroo's schedule points to 11 Airbus A330s reconfigured by August, with that number roughly split between domestic and international aircraft.

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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.
 

11 comments

  • Yohy

    Yohy

    19 Feb, 2015 11:19 am

    This could be quite interesting, the new QF seats strike me as both too low for adequate privacy from the short dividers and very claustrophobic. My first impression of the cabin in person was 'chicken coops'. In short no threat to CXs J on international services but obviously a different story for domestic.

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  • Broderick Boyd

    brobro

    19 Feb, 2015 12:29 pm

    I cant help but think VA's Business Class is a little too tight compared to QF.

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    20 Feb, 2015 05:07 pm

    According to the stats released, VA's new J seat is wider (maximum 28 inches) to QF's (max of 23, 24 or 25 inches depending on seat) and much the same longer (203cm to Qantas' 2m). Both are in 1-2-1 config.

    I look forward to sitting in both regardless.

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  • gippsflyer

    gippsflyer

    19 Feb, 2015 12:47 pm

    Disappointing regarding delay, but then these things aren't uncommon in first roll-out. As long as it's fully delivered within a year or a little bit more from the initial product launch, that's ok. The intense competition is definitely lifting seating - who would imagined First style seating for PER-SYD/MEL route last decade?

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  • Mal

    Mal

    19 Feb, 2015 02:41 pm

    Agreed. A few months isn't that long a wait, Qantas is already flying its 'business suite' so Virgin may as well be sure it gets its own version right because it won't have another chance at this.

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  • comcats2168

    comcats2168

    19 Feb, 2015 03:24 pm

    Why are they bothering installing ridiculously over-the-top seats for flights that aren't much more than 4-5 hours long? I'd much prefer better service for once.

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  • comcats2168

    comcats2168

    19 Feb, 2015 03:25 pm

    International flights are another story, but I still don't see the point of also putting these on domestic flights.

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  • tonywills

    tonywills

    19 Feb, 2015 05:52 pm

    Then fly Tiger or Jetstar

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  • Robert  K

    RobertK

    19 Feb, 2015 09:03 pm

    The chinks are starting to show , late and never ending Brisbane lounge upgrade , Perth outdated , business class delayed , and the competitors on many flights cheaper with full service ,,,  not mention no byo entertainment  iPad,  has the tide  turned , well for this paltiunuim in both  VA and QF yes ! By the way on my birthday in QF economy everyone wished me happy birthday , VA on the way home in buisness didn't even know my name , game set and match ! 

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  • eminere

    eminere

    20 Feb, 2015 12:14 am

    Qantas must be reading this with glee. 

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  • Travelator

    travelator

    20 Feb, 2015 09:37 am

    or........JB was telling porkies and were never going to get them out in March

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21 Jul, 2019 02:57 pm

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