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V Australia Launch Delayed


By James Wilkinson

The launch of Virgin Blue’s international offshoot, V Australia, has been delayed by more than two months due to the late delivery of Boeing aircraft.

Due to an ongoing strike at The Boeing Company’s US plant, the airline’s first three Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which are in advanced stages of production, have been indefinitely delayed. This has forced V Australia to push forward the launch of daily, three-class Sydney-Los Angeles flights from December 15, 2008 to February 28, 2009.

V Australia was officially launched in late March by Virgin Group Chairman, Sir Richard Branson, with return economy class airfares starting from $999 including all taxes and charges.

The airline had helped shift the focus for meetings and incentive planners back to the US from Asia, with the airline focusing on a high-quality onboard product at affordable prices. This means Las Vegas, which draws a high number of Australians for incentive trips and conferences each year, will be only $1200 in flight costs from the east coast of Australia — the average equivalent of flying to Singapore or Hong Kong.

Boeing has advised its customers it cannot predict the duration of the ongoing dispute with workers, meaning further delays for V Australia could be possible.

However, should there be an end to the dispute in the near-term, Virgin Blue said the airline would move swiftly to bring forward V Australia’s start-up schedule.

V Australia customers affected by the delay have been offered a number of options, including transfers to another airline at the expense of V Australia.

Contacted by SpiceNews, a spokesperson for V Australia said the scheduled Brisbane-Los Angeles flights, due to launch on March 1, 2009, remains unchanged at this stage, but the airline is “keeping an ear to the ground” and will make any changes deemed necessary.