Virgin Australia CEO Borghetti bullish on supersonic Boom flights

By David Flynn, October 4 2017

Virgin Australia chief John Borghetti feels the need: the need for speed. Supersonic speed, as it turns out – and he reckons we'll have it ready for commercial flights inside of ten years.

While Qantas, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines, alongside Airbus and Boeing, push the envelope for ultra-long range flights, Borghetti wants flights to be faster rather than longer.

"In 2017, there is a lot of focus on aircraft range and how far we can go non-stop using new technology," Borghetti told an aviation industry conference in Canberra on Tuesday night.

"However, I believe in order to achieve the next step-change in aviation, we need to shift the paradigm. We should not be asking 'How far?', but rather 'How fast?'."

Fast enough to dart between Sydney and Perth in just over two hours, do Sydney to Hong Kong in four hours, or sprint across the Pacific from Sydney to Los Angeles in seven hours, based on the ambitious projections of new supersonic player Boom.

Boom wants to bring back supersonic travel as a commercially-viable business
Boom wants to bring back supersonic travel as a commercially-viable business

Boom's sleek jets – which have attracted the support of Richard Branson, who has signed up Virgin Atlantic for options on the first ten aircraft – will be faster and more comfortable than the Concorde while also reducing the 'sonic boom' effect.

“This isn’t a far-off dream,” Borghetti added, with Boom’s XB-1 supersonic demonstrator slated to take wing next year ahead of passenger flights in the early 2020s – potentially the same time that Qantas begins non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York.

"It is entirely reasonable to believe that in the next 10 years, we will see supersonic jets safely and sustainably flying commercial passengers," Borghetti forecasts.

Borghetti's remarks came on the heels of Tesla's Elon Musk espousing a commercial passenger-carrying rocket capable of traveling anywhere on Earth in under an hour.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.