Virgin Australia will officially pass into the hands of new owners Bain Capital tomorrow, some seven months after the struggling airline – long weighed down by a multi-billion dollar mountain of debt – collapsed into administration.
As it happens, Bain's buyout will not only take Virgin into its third decade of flying but its third business model.
The airline debuted in 2000 as Virgin Blue, firmly locked into low-cost carrier mode.
Premium frills like lounges and a frequent flyer program eventually followed, along with the sibling international full-service airline V Australia in 2009.
2011 saw a dramatic pivot when the rebranded Virgin Australia went toe-to-toe with Qantas in the full-service space with domestic business class (later including fully-flat beds on east-west routes), Platinum frequent flyer status, an invitation-only Chairman's Lounge challenger in The Club, and, over time, a broader lounge network.
Now, as 2020 draws to a close, Virgin Australia 2.0 – or Virgin 3.0, depending on how you count – is shape-shifting yet again.
Under Bain Capital, Virgin will ditch its often-criticised ‘Qantas lite’ approach to become more of a “value-orientated” airline with a broadly mid-market position.
The complete 'new Virgin experience' is yet to be revealed, although Executive Traveller understands we won't have to wait too long once incoming CEO Jayne Hrdlicka pulls up her chair.
Frequent flyers: what do you expect to see, and what do you hope to see, from the new Virgin Australia? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.