We'll be in Asia, and I mean all of Asia, by the end of the year: Virgin Australia boss

By danwarne, May 12 2011
We'll be in Asia, and I mean all of Asia, by the end of the year: Virgin Australia boss

Virgin Australia chief John Borghetti has recommitted to having airline alliances in place to reach all Asian destinations by the end of this calendar year.

Speaking on a conference call following the US Department of Transport's approval of a codesharing deal between Virgin Australia and Delta, Borghetti said Virgin Australia would sell tickets to Asia, "and I mean all of Asia" by the end of the year.

He wouldn't be drawn on which airlines Virgin was wooing, but did allow that it might not just be one.

"It could be one, or two, or three, or four," he said. "The important thing is that we have a strategy that works for us in the long term. It will be a complete strategy -- not just a short term strategy that solves Japan, for example, it'll be a total solution."

Borghetti also wouldn't rule out joining a larger alliance such as Star Alliance or SkyTeam, although that's nowhere near the top of his to-do list.

"One day we may want to do that, but right now what we're focused on is strong bilateral alliances such as the three or four that we're part of today," he told Australian Business Traveller, referring to Air New Zealand, Delta, Etihad and Aerolineas Argentinas.

"If we then had a further need, we might look at joining an alliance. Those decisions can come at a later time.

"There are significant costs to joining an alliance - but equally, there are benefits as well. The important thing is if you've got your bilatarals in place, then you can work out what's missing."

Borghetti quipped that one day Virgin Australia might even be a part of oneworld, which currently lists Qantas as a member. "You never know what will happen," he said.

The new Virgin Australia brand was also a win for the airline in the US market, he said. "I know that it will have an impact on our business, because one strong brand like Virgin, that's a brand that's recognised globally.

"Who in Nebraska has ever heard of V Australia? Nobody. Tomorrow, with this deal, we'll codeshare there as Virgin Australia. I bet you a lot people have heard about Virgin. All of a sudden, your brand name becomes a revenue generator because people have confidence in your brand and so they book it."

Borghetti rejected the assertion that Virgin Australia was dragging its heels on reducing fuel surcharges following Emirates' move to reduce its surcharges as oil prices reduced.

"Emirates is one of 48 or 50 international carriers coming in and out of this country ... we all make decisions that we think are right for the business, and our decision is that we'll keep watching it," he said.

"You don't just look at the price of the fuel surcharges -- look at the total ticket price. That's what you've got to make sure you're competitive on. No point having no fuel surcharge if your airfare is a lot higher."


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 586

Could this possibly be related to SQ allowing the Virgin name to be used??


24 Oct 2010

Total posts 177

Yeah, that did cross my mind, too :-) Would be pretty fantastic if that did happen! However I suspect SQ's presence in Australia is already so strong that they wouldn't necessarily want to share their planes with Virgin...


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 586

It would be great - I'm just trying to figure out what SQ would gain from it though... All I can think of is that it would allow them to compete with QF coming from regional ports (ie Canberra, Dubbo, Albury, Hobart etc)... Excited :)

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