By James Wilkinson in Los Angeles
V Australia has again stolen the country’s aviation headlines with the airline’s successful launch of flights between Brisbane and Los Angeles yesterday (Apr 8).
V Australia has inaugurated Brisbane-Los Angeles
Celebrities, corporate clients and media joined V Australia’s executive team for the 12-hour flight across the Pacific, which included champagne on departure and a cheeky onboard underwear show by several prominent passengers.
Singer Deni Hines, along with media personalities Bianca Dye (radio DJ) and Mike Goldman (Big Brother host) modelled t-shirts, singlets and underwear in signature Virgin red, featuring the slogans ‘V1P’ (very first passenger), ‘it’s all about me’ and ‘fly like a rockstar’ to help raise over $1000 for the company’s charity, Virgin Unite.
On the topic of success, the launch flight was smooth sailing for Australia’s newest airline, with the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft more than three-quarters full and landing early into Los Angeles.
The new, thrice-weekly Brisbane-Los Angeles flights mark the first time two airlines have competed head-to-head on the route and provide over 1000 extra seats on the route in a massive boost for tourism in Queensland.
Prior to take off, Queensland’s former Premier and current Commissioner for the Americas, Peter Beattie, exclusively told Spice News the new flights were great news for the inbound conference and incentive markets.
“This is very important for the conference industry,” he said. “Because (the flight) is 12 hours, a lot of (delegates) will only travel business class and if you want that activity, you have got to offer those business seats – it’s that simple.”
Beattie, who is based in Los Angeles and who flew into Brisbane on the inaugural inbound flight, said Americans are willing to travel, but at the right price.
“If you look at the American market, Americans want to come to Australia,” he said. “Some of the reasons they don’t come in as many numbers as they could are because of the cost of airfares and where you access.
“It is not good enough to simply have an LA-Sydney route… to get people here you have got to have an LA-Brisbane route and therefore what V Australia has done is a fantastic initiative,” he said.
V Australia’s aircraft feature 360 seats across three cabins – international business, international premium economy and international economy class – along with in-flight bars, state- of-the-art Panasonic entertainment systems and mood lighting.
The airline is as Australian as you can get. Premium Australian wine, produce and clothing is featured across the aircraft, with international business passengers drinking Ninth Island Pinot Noir, eating barramundi and Tasmanian smoked salmon, while wearing V Australia’s signature flip flops.
Vegemite is served at breakfast and the on-demand entertainment system features tens of Australian films, in a huge show of support for the local film industry.
Speaking exclusively to Spice News onboard the inaugural flight, V Australia CEO Scott Swift said the launch of Brisbane-Los Angeles flights was another proud moment for the airline, which flew commercially for the first time just six weeks ago (between Sydney and LA).
“This is our 57th flight and there has been a huge amount of work to get the airline up and running to where we are now,” he said.
Swift said the feedback to date from passengers has been extremely positive and he was confident of the airline’s success in what is truly a challenging market.
“Our guests are loving our product,” he said. “They are loving our seats, our cabins, our crew… and when we have the aircraft, the product and the people all lined up, I’m very heartened about our future.”
Alongside the friendly smiles and excellent service from the cabin crew, the product is what really stands-out onboard V Australia.
From the on-demand entertainment system and high quality food in each cabin to the Bvlgari amenity kits and Riedel glassware in business class, V Australia is offering 5-star service to not just premium passengers, but everyone onboard.
What’s missing, however, are the 5-star prices. V Australia Brisbane-Los Angeles fares start from: $999 for a return economy flight; $1777 for a premium economy return flight; and $5999 for a business class return flight.
In economy alone, today’s prices are 54 per cent cheaper than a year ago – the best airfare in economy on Qantas between Sydney and Los Angeles on March 31, 2008 was $2146, more than double the fare available today.
For an in-depth look at the offering across the V Australia cabins, stay tuned to Spice News next week.