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Following today's launch of the new Virgin Australia, we asked Richard Branson how business travel has changed over the years – and what does it take to get it right?
"It's all about the details" Branson says. "Every single little detail has to be right. For the amount of money people pay for business class, they should expect that They want everything, every box ticked."
"I travelled on business class last night" Branson says of Virgin Australia's inaugural Airbus A330 flight into Sydney – and with a touch of wry humour, adds "I was fortunate to get a seat" – but he told Australian Business Traveller that he talks to passengers and crew about all those details.
"I get out my notebook and talk to the passengers, make notes, then I talk to the staff and make notes. Fortunately, right across Virgin, we've got people who want to get every detail right."
"When we started off 26 years ago in the airline business, travelling in a business airline anywhere in the world was dire - absolutely dreadful" Branson recalls. "The experience was not better than economy class, which was also dire."
Today, Branson says, his Virgin empire in the UK and America offer the best business class. "And because they do that we can afford to be competitive in the back end of the plane. What we want to do is replicate this in Australia, and have the best business class as well as the best economy class."
This is just part of Australian Business Traveller's comprehensive coverage of Virgin Australia's launch day:
- Touchdown! Virgin Australia's first landings at Sydney Airport
- New Airbus A330 and Boeing 737 planes, plus what the new offerings mean for business travellers
- Full analysis of the decision to rebrand all the Virgin Blue group airlines (including V Australia, Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue) as Virgin Australia
- Our interview with Richard Branson about business travel
- Punchy, fresh new ads for Virgin Australia, plus interviews with uniform designer Julie Grbac, inflight chef Luke Mangan and brand guru Hans Hulbosch
- The very first on-board photos from Virgin Australia's new Boeing 737-800 in Business and Economy
- Insider photos from the launch day with Richard Branson and John Borghetti