Virgin Blue was launched on 3 August 2000, with two aircraft initially offering 7 return flights a day between Brisbane and Sydney. This has been expanded to cover all major Australian cities and many holiday destinations.
The timing of Virgin Blue's entry into the Australian market was fortuitous as it was able to fill the vacuum created by the failure of Ansett in September 2001. Ansett's failure allowed Virgin Blue to grow rapidly to become Australia's second domestic carrier, rather than just a cut-price alternative to the established players. It also gave them access to terminal space without which growth would have been significantly limited. Delays in negotiating access to the former Ansett terminal at Sydney Airport however forced Virgin Blue to initially use a temporary terminal there.
Virgin Group's holding in Virgin Blue has since been reduced, initially via a sale of a half interest to Australian logistics conglomerate Patrick Corporation, and later by a public float. In early 2005 Patrick launched a hostile takeover for Virgin Blue. Patrick have for some time been unhappy with the company's direction. By the closure of the offer, Patrick held 62% of the company, giving it control. Virgin Group retains a 25% share.
Virgin Blue uses a familiar formula pioneered by airlines such as Southwest Airlines and Ryanair eliminating costs such as included in-flight meals and printed tickets in favour of selling food on-board and using telephone and internet booking systems. It has also cut costs by limiting the number of airports serviced and by operating one type of aircraft, the Boeing 737.
In September 2003, Virgin Blue announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Pacific Blue, would offer a similar cheaper service between New Zealand and mainland Australia. Pacific Blue aims to position itself as a low-cost competitor to Air New Zealand and Qantas on trans-Tasman routes. Air New Zealand have also created a low-cost airline Freedom Air to operate these routes, although continues to also do so in its own right.
Virgin Blue, with a predominately red livery, was named in the Australian slang tradition of calling a red-head male 'Blue' or 'Bluey'.
Includes Pacific Blue destinations.
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
- Cook Islands
- New Zealand
The Virgin Blue/Pacific Blue fleet consists of the following aircraft (at June 2005):
- 20 Boeing 737-700
- 29 Boeing 737-800 - three of these aircraft are registered in New Zealand as Pacific Blue aircraft while a number of Australian registered Virgin Blue aircraft are also in Pacific Blue colours.
Initially Virgin Blue leased their aircraft but recent additions to the fleet have generally been purchased outright.
- Virgin Blue
- Virgin Blue Fleet Detail
- Virgin Blue Passenger Opinions
- Pacific Blue
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