Virgin Australia is to introduce what it calls Business/First class on transcontinental routes from Perth as part of one of the most dramatic upgrades of cabin product ever seen by an Australian airline.
This morning in Singapore, Virgin Australia Chief Executive, John Borghetti, promised the travelling public that the new offering, to be rolled out in March, would widen the gap between Virgin and Qantas much more in “our favour.”
The airline will fit all of its A330s that are used across Australia, and its international Boeing 777s with the new lie flat Business Bed Suites, replacing its current beds.
“Our new product is Business/First,” said Mr Borghetti.
He added that the new lie flat bed suite is wider and longer than the Qantas one to be introduced in December on domestic routes.
However the new product will not cost any more.
“We will be competitive and have reduced fares since we introduced business class,” said Mr Borghetti.
Virgin Australia also announced it will revamp its international Premium Economy increasing the seat pitch by 3 inches (7cm) to 41 inches (104cm).
“This product will be a ‘Business Lite’ rather than Premium Economy,” said Mr Borghetti.
And the airline will also introduce on international routes an economy plus product with extra legroom, although the airline is tight lipped on the detail.
“That will be another announcement soon,” said Mr Borghetti.
The revolutionary business class suites, which convert into 80 inch (203cm) lie-flat beds are set in an innovative 1-2-1 configuration which will guarantee passengers a window or aisle seat and maximum privacy.
At the moment the airline’s business class beds are in a 2-2-2 layout.
The suite includes a unique tablet holder, a 16 to 18 inch (41-46cm) touch screen for entertainment, multiple lighting settings and heaps of storage.
Virgin Australia enlisted the support of famous design agency, Tangerine London, to lead the industrial design of the new seats and cabins.
Mr Borghetti said that “the new suites will set a new standard in business class travel, not just in Australia but around the world.”
“Our Virgin Vision to 2017 is to become Australia’s favourite airline group and today’s announcement is central to our strategy as it will see Virgin Australia deliver the best premium travel experience in Australia.”
The suites will roll out in Virgin Australia’s Airbus A330 fleet in early 2015 with the first aircraft expected to be in service by March and the complete refit of the fleet to be finalised by August.
The roll out of the new business class product for the Boeing 777 fleet will commence from November 2015 and be complete by early 2016.
New Business Class
• Unique tablet holder specifically designed for Virgin Australia as well as dedicated side console with USB port and universal power socket.
• Retractable privacy screen dividing centre seats.
• Three types of adjustable lighting including reading light, soft ambient lamp and brighter overhead light.
• Enhanced restaurant-style service with new Luke Mangan designed menus and table linen to complement the new suites.
• Dedicated “Deep Sleep” turndown service by Cabin Crew with large pillows and duvet for guests.
Airbus A330 features
• New amenity kit design featuring REN cosmetics.
• Larger 16” gesture-based touch screens with ‘Red’ Panasonic eX2 system graphical user interface providing additional functionality and more than 300 hours of entertainment.
Boeing 777 features
• Newly designed Business Class bar, offering face-to-face service for up to four seated guests and additional lounge seating behind the bar.
• Larger 18” gesture-based touch screens with ‘Red’ Panasonic eX2 system graphical user interface providing additional functionality and more than 300 hours of entertainment.
• Premium Economy cabin and seat refresh with 24 seat capacity.
• An extra 3 inches of legroom on all Premium Economy seats with 41 inch seat pitch.
• Transformed Premium Economy meal service.
• Extra Legroom Zone in the Economy cabins.