Man Australia founder and director buys Crown Limited
and Virgin Blue shares - 12th October 2009
Blue is an Australian ‘New World Carrier’
(NWC) and Australia's second-biggest airline. It was
founded by British businessman Richard Branson's Virgin
Group and is now majority controlled by Toll Holdings.
It is based in Brisbane, Queensland, and is the third
most profitable airline in the world, behind Brazil's
GOL, and Ryanair.
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.
timing of Virgin Blue's entry into the Australian
market was fortunate 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.
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 had been
unhappy for some time 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. In May 2006 Toll Holdings acquired Patrick
and became the majority owner of Virgin Blue.
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
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 also created a low-cost airline
Freedom Air (which will cease service in March 2008)
and Qantas deployed Jetstar on selected NZ routes.
Both Qantas (through Qantas and also its wholly owned
NZ subsidiary Jetconnect operating as a Qantas branded
franchise) and Air NZ continue to operate these routes
in their own right. In August 2007, Virgin Blue announced
their intention to begin domestic Pacific Blue services
within New Zealand. Flights between Auckland and Wellington,
Christchurch and Wellington and Auckland and Christchurch
began on November 12 2007.
responded to Virgin Blue's lower cost base by creating
a new low-cost domestic carrier, Jetstar in 2004.
In May 2005 Jetstar announced that it would also commence
services to Christchurch, New Zealand and in 2006
many other overseas destinations.
other brands in the Virgin family, Virgin Blue takes
an informal and humorous approach to business. On
one flight, Richard Branson held a toilet paper race
down the aisle of a Virgin Blue plane. Its inflight
food menu is named A La Cart (a parody of the manner
that food is served using a cart). However, this attitude
has been reviewed, due to the airline's
recent focus on corporate customers.
its inception in 2000, Virgin Blue did not have interline
or marketing alliances with any other airline. The
first exception to this was after the collapse of
its domestic competitor Ansett where it began a codeshare
agreement with United Airlines, which allowed United
customers to fly from America to any of Virgin Blue's
Australian destinations that United did not already
serve. In 2006, in an effort to be more competitive
with arch rival Qantas, Virgin Blue started exploring
these relationships, forming frequent flyer agreements
with Emirates Airline, Hawaiian Airlines and Malaysia
Airlines. Virgin Blue also has an Airline Agreement
with Regional Express for Regional travellers. In
November 2007, the airline announced an interline
deal with international carrier Garuda Indonesia,
offering easy transfer from a domestic Virgin Blue
flight to an international Garuda service departing
from Perth, Melbourne, Sydney or Darwin.
Blue's name was the result of an open competition;
it is a play on the predominantly red livery and the
Australian slang tradition of calling a red-headed
male 'Blue' or 'Bluey'.
early 2006 Virgin Blue announced its intention to
operate up to 7 flights a week to the US using either
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) or San Francisco
International Airport (SFO), saying that the route
was needed to make the airline as profitable as possible.
The airline has also expressed interest in flying
were granted approval for up to 10 flights a week
from Australian regulatory bodies on July 25, 2007.
They are still waiting on approval from the United
Blue has acquired six Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from
Boeing for use on international routes. They will
lease a seventh aircraft from ILFC.
name of Virgin Blue's international airline was decided
in the same way that Virgin Blue's own name was found,
with a public naming competition conducted in early
25 June 2007, Virgin Blue released the 8 finalists
of the naming competition. They are as follows:
* Matilda Blue
* V Australia Airlines
* Australia Blue
* Virgin Pacific
* Amelia Blue
* Didgeree Blue
* Liberty Blue
* Virgin Australia
Blue and Virgin Pacific were early favourites to win
the competition, despite a problem with the latter,
as Singapore Airlines (through their stake in Virgin
Atlantic) have control over the use of the 'Virgin'
name on International air routes, and have not, in
the past, allowed its use.
July 25, 2007, it was announced by Virgin Blue that
"V Australia" will be the name of the new
are scheduled to begin in the second half of 2008.
average age of the Virgin Blue fleet is 3.9 years
as of April 2006.
Virgin Blue leased their aircraft but recent additions
to the fleet have generally been purchased outright.
Virgin Blue owned aircraft are indicated by the Boeing
customer code FE.
June 2006, Virgin Blue placed an order for 9 Boeing
737-800 by exercising purchase rights it held. Delivery
of the aircraft is scheduled to begin in 2008.
November 2006, Virgin Blue announced plans to purchase
11 Embraer 190 and three Embraer 170 aircraft with
options for six more E-Jets, which later became orders
for 3 Embraer 170s and 3 Embraer 190s. These options
are now exercised taking the total firm orders to
14 X E-190 and 6 x E170. Virgin Blue also holds another
3 options and 17 purchase rights on E-jets and have
announced their intentions to possibly take the total
fleets size to 40 E-jets if they perform to expectations.
January 2007, German newspaper Börsen Zeitung
told of information that Virgin Blue is in the final
stages of buying a brand new fleet of long distance
Airbus or Boeing aircraft. This is to start new routes
between Australia and long haul destinations in response
to Jetstar recently starting long distance international
routes. On February 19, 2007 Virgin Blue announced
it had exercised the options for the additional Embraer
E-Jets. In March 2007 Virgin Blue announced it would
purchase six Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and lease a
seventh, to be used on long-haul routes to the United
"big brother" Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Blue
gives its planes imaginative and amusing names. Each
aircraft also features a "virgin girl" as
nose art, complete with a wide-brimmed Aussie hat,
trailing an Australian flag.
received its first Embraer 170 in early September
2007 at a special ceremony at the Embraer plant in
Sao Jose dos Campos.
October 24 Virgin announced that they will be introducing
a Premium Economy service on all domestic flights.
The first three rows of each aircraft will feature
red leather seats that can be converted to a 2 x 2
Premium Economy configuration, or to Virgin's regular
3 x 3 economy configuration. The Premium Economy service
will include an increased seat pitch and baggage allowance,
priority boarding, access to The Lounge, as well as
complimentary live2air in-flight entertainment. Because
the seating configuration on the Embraer aircraft
is already 2 x 2, the amount of seats on these flights
will remain unchanged, but they still will carry the
new Premium Economy product.
Incidents and accidents
December 2005 a Virgin Blue Boeing 737-700 was flying
from Townsville to Brisbane when a cockpit window
cracked. The plane made an emergency landing at Brisbane
Airport. Due to the rapid descent some passengers
suffered ear discomfort and other minor injuries.
August 2007 a Virgin Blue Boeing 737 was flying from
Brisbane to Hamilton Island when an engine was stopped.
The plane made an emergency landing at Rockhampton
Airport. It was a safe landing and no injuries were
Virgin Blue's The Lounge
capture a share of the business traveller market,
Virgin Blue decided to provide a members lounge facility
for travellers. Originally this was called The Blue
Room and provided facilities to members and guests
on a pay-as-you-go basis.
2006, Virgin Blue revamped the lounge facilities and
renamed it The Lounge, which offers all-inclusive
facilities for a membership fee or casual fee basis.
Facilities that are provided include buffet food and
refreshments, newspapers, computers, and WiFi internet
access for travellers.
they are located at Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide
and Canberra airports.
December 2006, Virgin Blue announced a partnership
between Australian cable television providers Foxtel
and Austar, to introduce a "Live2Air" service
on all flights by mid 2007. Approximately half the
fleet had been fitted with Live2Air facilities by
Blue was the first carrier outside North America to
introduce multi-channel real-time satellite TV to
Live2Air service costs customers $5 per flight sector
during an 'introductory period'. Following the 'introductory
period', the service will cost $5 on flights under
2 hours and $10 on flights over 2 hours. The only
payment method is via an in-seat credit card swipe
facility. Debit cards cannot be used.
Sponsorship and marketing
8 February 2007, it was announced that Virgin Blue
had signed a two year sponsorship deal with NRL team
South Sydney Rabbitohs. The Rabbitohs are the first
rugby league team Virgin Blue has sponsored. Boeing
737-800 VH-VUA has slight changes to its livery to
commemorate this sponsorship. The Australian flag
held by the 'Virgin Girl' replaced with the Rabbitohs
the 2007 Super 14 season, Virgin Blue is the sleeve
sponsor for Queensland Reds.
Blue is also the official sponsor of the (Australian)
National Basketball League (NBL), and the title sponsor
of NBL team the Brisbane Bullets. (Credit:
VIRGIN BLUE joins forces with FOXTEL, AUSTAR for A
NEW ERA FOR AUSTRALIAN IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
award winning low fare airline Virgin Blue has just
got even better. The carrier has joined forces with
Australia's leading subscription television providers
FOXTEL and AUSTAR and LiveTV of the United States
to introduce an exciting new generation of “LIVE”
satellite TV in-flight entertainment.
a million people fly Virgin Blue each month and from
the comfort of their own seat, they will be able to
watch live television news and premium sporting events
at 40,000 feet, along with a selection of the best
comedy, lifestyle, children’s, music, documentaries
and general entertainment channels provided by FOXTEL
new services will be broadcast live via satellite
to the aircraft and displayed on individual, back-of-seat
screens that will be available to all Guests.
“Live2Air”, the services will offer the
choice of 24 FOXTEL and AUSTAR channels, including
Sky News Australia, CNN, THE COMEDY CHANNEL, FOX SPORTS
1 and 2 and Nickelodeon, that will cost no more than
$5 for unlimited use during the entire flight.
Blue has worked with the US technology provider LiveTV
for more than a year and has executed a letter of
intent with LiveTV to be the first airline outside
North America to harness the innovation, which will
be delivered under a licence with Virgin Blue that
is exclusive to the region.
Blue, FOXTEL and AUSTAR will begin phasing in the
new technology by mid next year subject to regulatory
approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
the meantime the service will be demonstrated in Virgin
Blue airport lounges to allow Blue Room visitors a
glimpse into the future of in-flight entertainment.
Blue Chief Executive Brett Godfrey said,”We
simply couldn’t wait for the future; “Live2Air”
is a generational leap forward in on-board entertainment.
When we launched the airline over four years ago,
it was our intent to offer this product but the technology
literally wasn’t in orbit over Australia to
offer real-time broadcasts. Now that the technology
and satellite coverage is available from FOXTEL and
AUSTAR we are excited to be the first and only airline
in the Southern Hemisphere to take in-flight entertainment
to a whole new level.”
LIVE seatback TV initiative will position Virgin Blue
as the market leader for in-flight entertainment and
we will continue to ensure we provide our Guests with
more options to maximise their flying pleasure.”
exciting new technology will be implemented so as
not to impact Virgin Blue’s low cost base and
its ability to remain Australia’s high quality
low fare leader.
Godfrey added, “Being pay per use, this innovation
is in line with our long term strategy of providing
user-pays options to improve our already award winning
service without compromising our bottom line. Our
peers, JetBlue, West Jet and Frontier have seen great
success with the introduction of satellite TV onboard.
We expect ”Live2Air” to actually enhance
yield by attracting new Guests who want to see the
news as it happens and appreciate being entertained
with their choice of content in the air.”
Chief Executive Kim Williams said that FOXTEL was
delighted to bring the expanded choice and exclusive
content it offers television viewers at home to travellers
on Virgin Blue.
live sport, catching the breaking news or the stock
market close as you fly will be a totally new and
unique experience in Australia,” Mr Williams
is at the forefront of innovation in television and
this is an important and very exciting development
for us, our subscription television colleagues, and
most particularly consumers.”
of AUSTAR John Porter said “Just as AUSTAR is
about innovation, value and choice, this new Virgin
Blue venture will give Australians access to quality
programming whether they’re at home or in the
you are in regional, rural or metropolitan Australia,
you can benefit from this exciting new technological
advance,” Mr Porter said.
business travellers will be able to catch up on news
of the day on Sky News Australia or CNN live instead
of pre-recorded news, or chill out with some music
videos or a comedy, while Guests on longer flights
will be able to fit in a documentary or a classic
movie or TV series.
with children will also become an easier experience
for parents with the option of a range of children’s
channels to entertain them.
fans will be able to watch their favourite team live
in action on the range of sport channels while in
full suite of channels that will be available on “Live2Air”
Business/News Entertainment/Music Sports
Sky News Australia THE COMEDY CHANNEL FOX SPORTS 1
FOX News The History Channel FOX SPORTS 2
CNN UKTV FOX Footy Channel
FOX Classics FUEL
Nickelodeon The LifeStyle Channel
Nick Jr. Discovery Travel & Adventure Channel
Boomerang Animal Planet
How To Channel LifeStyle FOOD
Award winning airline Virgin Blue and sister carrier
Pacific Blue currently operate a fleet of 49 modern
Boeing 737 aircraft flying to 21 destinations across
metropolitan and regional Australia, as well as four
International destinations taking in New Zealand,
Vanuatu and Fiji. For Virgin Blue bookings log on
to www.virginblue.com.au or call 13 6789. For Pacific
Blue bookings log on to www.flypacificblue.com
or call 13 1645 from Australia or 0800 670 000 from
FOXTEL is Australia's leading subscription television
provider and is connected to more than 1.1 million
homes on cable and satellite through retail and wholesale
distribution. FOXTEL is owned by Telstra Corporation
Ltd (50%), The News Corporation Ltd (25%), and Publishing
and Broadcasting Ltd (25%). FOXTEL launched its new
digital cable and satellite service in March 2004.
United Communications (AUSTAR) www.austarunited.com.au
AUSTAR (Australian Stock Exchange “AUN”)
is a leading provider of subscription television services
in Australia, providing principally satellite delivered
services to regional and rural Australia. AUSTAR also
offers mobile telephone and internet services. AUSTAR’s
50% owned joint venture, XYZnetworks, is a significant
program provider in the Australian market and owns
and/or distributes Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, Discovery,
Channel [V], Club [V], MAX, Arena, The Lifestyle Channel,
Lifestyle Food., CountryMusic Channel and The Weather
Channel to over 1.2 million subscribers. In addition,
AUSTAR was the first company in Australia to launch
digital interactive television.
LiveTV is an innovative provider of in-flight entertainment
products and services such as DIRECTV®, Bell ExpressVu,
XM Satellite Radio, wireless aircraft data link services,
and cabin surveillance systems for commercial aircraft.
LiveTV is the largest provider of satellite TV systems
to commercial airlines. The LiveTV system includes
individual seatback monitors at every seat, armrest
mounted channel, brightness, and volume controls that
allow passengers to select from up to 36 channels
of satellite programming.
LiveTV is a wholly owned subsidiary of JetBlue Airways
Corporation (NASDAQ JBLU).
more information, visit LiveTV on the World Wide Web
Public & Media Relations Mgr
Virgin Blue – ph 0402 137 071
Director of Corporate Affairs
FOXTEL – ph (02) 9200 1733
Corporate Affairs Manager
AUSTAR – ph 0422 823 000
Virgin Blue goes green
21 March 2007: Virgin Blue has today become the first
airline in Australia to have a comprehensive and certified
carbon offset program that forms part of its integrated
strategy to address environmental impact issues, including
greenhouse gas emissions.
program, which has been certified by the Australian
Government under the Australian Greenhouse Office's
Greenhouse Friendly™ initiative, provides the
airline and its Guests with the opportunity to neutralise
today, Guests on Virgin Blue can offset their flights
for as little as $1. Monies collected via the optional
carbon offset program will be used to purchase abatement
from projects in Australia and New Zealand.
Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for the Environment,
joined Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey
and Howard Bamsey, Deputy Secretary of the Department
of the Environment and Water Resources, to launch
the program in Canberra today.
Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey said, "As
an airline company, we are well aware of the challenge
to balance the demand and growth of air travel while
at the same time actively working to reduce aircraft
emissions. The introduction of this program is a significant
step in the right direction and one we hope other
airlines will follow."
see our Carbon Offset Program as a step towards creating
a sustainable aviation environment. This is a global
issue requiring a global response and we believe all
airlines around the world, not just in Australia,
need to view it as a shared responsibility and act
swiftly and today's announcement shows that we are
very keen to play our role in this."
introduction of this program is in response to the
enquiries from our Guests, corporate clients and encouragement
from our own team members", Brett Godfrey said.
flights on Virgin Blue will occur by purchasing abatement
from the Australian Greenhouse Office Approved Greenhouse
Friendly™ Abatement Projects. While offsetting
on Pacific Blue or Polynesian Blue flights, will occur
by purchasing abatement from Gold Standard projects
in New Zealand that are endorsed by the New Zealand
Virgin Blue Carbon offset program involves two key
Guests who travel on Virgin Blue flights will have
the option of voluntarily offsetting their share of
carbon emissions generated from the flight. They will
be offered the opportunity during the flight booking
process to contribute towards Australian Greenhouse
Office approved abatement projects including such
initiatives as forestry activities, energy efficiency
measures, waste diversion and recycling and generation
of renewable energy; and
Virgin Blue, with the enthusiastic support of its
management and Board, has made a financial commitment
to offset the greenhouse impacts of its own crew and
staff travelling on company business. This financial
commitment, expected to be in the vicinity of AUD
$500,000 annually, will then be channelled into abatement
projects aimed at long term and permanent greenhouse
Blue's team had been investigating the potential for
the airline to become involved in the Greenhouse FriendlyTM
program since March last year and is proud to be the
first Australian airline and first transportation
organisation in the country to be officially certified
as "Greenhouse Friendly".
Blue also announced it has signed up for the Australian
Greenhouse Challenge Plus Program, joining nearly
800 other companies committed to improving energy
efficiencies and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Virgin Blue will measure, monitor and report on its
overall emissions as it aims to reduce them year on
Godfrey added, "The Australian Government Greenhouse
Friendly initiative and the Greenhouse Challenge Plus
Programme are further steps in our overall environmental
plan. We already operate a fleet of the latest 737
NG aircraft and have implemented strategies to reduce
fuel burn via more efficient flight planning and aircraft
weight reduction. We also participate in recycling
activities from computers to Christmas cards and will
continue to work with other agencies to help further
protect the environment."
Man Australia does not represent Virgin Blue
Man Australia does not represent Richard Branson
Man Australia does not represent Brett Godfrey
Man Australia has assisted Virgin Blue in a publicity
capacity and participates on online b2b advertising
and exposure for a number of Virgin Enterprises Limited