Virgin Australia will plate up its new business class menu on Thursday March 25, with the airline confirming the meals will be served on flights that day as well as at an evening media launch held in the airline's hangar at Brisbane Airport.
Update: click here to read our exclusive report on Virgin's new business class menu (and see photos of the new dishes)
After months of serving snack boxes in its premium cabin – while longstanding competitor Qantas and new challenger Rex offer more filling fare – Virgin's 2021 take on business class dining represents another plank in the airline's rebound under new owners Bain Capital and CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.
Hrdlicka will host what Virgin describes as an "exclusive dinner event... heralding a new era of flying for Virgin Australia guests."
As previously reported, Executive Traveller understands the new inflight dining service sees a return to the airline's pre-collapse and pre-COVID mode of individually plated dishes with a fresh, contemporary theme delivered on a single tray, with cabin crew recently undergoing training in the new meal service.
It's not yet known if Virgin will 'go it alone' with its f&b offering or has entered into a partnership with either a named chef or an established and recognised retail brand.
Virgin previously collaborated with Luke Mangan on domestic and international business class meals which were well-regarded by frequent flyers.
Mangan also lent his expertise to designing menus for the airline's elite invitation-only The Club lounges, which have been shuttered since March 2020 and could be a casualty of Virgin's move away from well-heeled corporate accounts and towards a more mid-market position.
However, while Virgin's business class passengers will see an upgrade in their inflight dining, economy flyers are set to see free snacks and most drinks axed in favour of a fully 'buy on board' model.
The new menu is part of the airline's rolling reset of business class after completing what it described as an "end-to-end review" of the premium proposition, aimed at being "more accessible" and with a focus on premium leisure flyers alongside "price-conscious corporates" and small-to-medium businesses.
A few elements of the experience remain in flux, such as inflight WiFi – which has remained switched off while Virgin re-evaluates the service – and the fate of invitation-only The Club and its well-appointed private airport lounges.
Virgin Australia is currently flying at around 50% of its pre-COVID domestic capacity, although corporate travel remains pegged below expectations.
Earlier this week, Hrdlicka confirmed to The Sydney Morning Herald that the airline is in "advanced discussions" to lease eight or nine additional Boeing 737 jets in anticipation of a rapid recovery in Australia's domestic travel market.
"We are committing to more aircraft and we are just really positive about the outlook," Hrdlicka said.
Executive Traveller will attend Virgin's business class menu launch to bring readers a full report on the new meals and the thinking behind them.