BY JAMES WILKINSON
In a boost to both conference and incentive planners and venues, Virgin Australia is set to become the first airline in seven years to offer Business Class on domestic flights to the Gold Coast.
Virgin Australia Chief Executive and Managing Director John Borghetti said Business Class would be offered on flights to the Gold Coast, one of the airline’s most popular ports with 138 seats each week from across the country, by the last quarter of 2011.
He also said a new Virgin Australia lounge would be built at Coolangatta Airport by early 2012 in another move by the former low-cost carrier to win a larger share of the corporate and government market.
“The Gold Coast is an important city in the Virgin Australia network,” Borghetti said. “We carry almost one million corporate and leisure guests each year.
“With the introduction of Business Class services by the last quarter of 2011 and the opening of our new lounge in early 2012, Virgin Australia is proudly responding to the tourism and the business sectors of the Gold Coast and (the) South?East Queensland region,” he said.
Virgin Australia is set to receive a number of brand new Boeing 737-800 aircraft in 2011 with Business Class and Boeing ‘sky interior’ product, while the airline is also planning to retrofit a large number of aircraft in the fleet.
According to Virgin Australia, the new Boeing 737-800 Business and Economy Class interiors “will be rolled out across the majority of Virgin Australia’s current domestic fleet by the end of the year”.
The new Business Class cabin – already available on Airbus A330-200 services between Sydney and Perth – features leather seating and a gourmet menu designed by Luke Mangan.
An announcement on the onboard in-flight entertainment system – currently not available on the new aircraft in Virgin Australia livery – is expected to be made in the coming months, while speculation in aviation industry circles that the airline will soon offer onboard WiFi similar to what is available on domestic United States flights, including those on offer by sister airline Virgin America.
Borghetti said the 680sqm Gold Coast lounge – featuring complementary WiFi, food from chef Mangan, premium beverages and Foxtel – formed part of the airline’s program of new and updated lounges in Queensland that included Mackay to open by the end of the year and the new Brisbane lounge that opened late last month.