Virgin Australia: 25 March – new Business Class menu to be launched
Obviously, my invitation got lost in the mail, but over at ET they are crowing their invitation to a dinner launch event a week away on Thursday 25 March in Brisbane.
Virgin Australia is apparently launching their new domestic premium cabin menu at the event that will be ‘. . . heralding a new era of flying for Virgin Australia guests.’ Just remember there is a flipside to the improvement in the premium cabin offering, as economy flyers will lose by no longer getting a free drink and snack. They will have to ‘buy on board‘ such things in the future.
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Hrdlicka needs a distraction
This should be a good distraction for CEO Jayne Hrdlicka who is in the press for all the wrong reasons over her period heading up A2 Milk a couple of years ago. If you want to read a summary of the unsavory little episode, head over to the Australian Financial Review for the acid tongue of Joe Aston and his column Rear Window.
Virgin Australia has been serving snack boxes – which are pretty appalling – to premium passengers after the in-administration horror of the cup-o-noodles debacle. I posted about the snack boxes earlier this week.
Heading up the premium food offering at the old Virgin Australia was Luke Mangen, and the meals were pretty good the times I sampled business class on a domestic flight.
We don’t know if there will be a name attached to the new premium on board meals, but given that they are launching with a hosted dinner – I think there will be a name. And I will go even further and say if I was a betting man, I’d suspect they would do a tie-in with a name linked to Masterchef on the 10 Network which is tipped for a premier around Easter. Did anyone say Jock Zonfrillo, Andy Allen or Melissa Leong?
The above is pure speculation – but would be a coup if Virgin Australia had its cross-promotion act together.
Virgin scaling up
In other news, the SMH is reporting that Virgin Australia is also looking for a few more 737-800’s in preparation for a return to pre-COVID-19 levels of operation. Pre-administration it had 84 of the aircraft, but it gave up the leases on a bunch (some of which ended up with REX) which left Virgin Australia with 58.
If you are planning trans-Tasman or international travel in the next 12 months – and who isn’t? – then this is a great way to earn Gold with Air New Zealand, and for getting gold recognition on 26 Star Alliance members from Singapore Airlines and Thai to Asiana, ANA and Lufthansa.
Air New Zealand fares appear significantly lower than Qantas at the moment, in most classes, so why not save some money, and match your status? You will also travel on either their 787 or brand new A321neo’s compared to Qantas A330’s where you might have to endure the flying kangaroo’s business suite product (ironic yuk!)
It seems like it’s status match nirvana at the moment.
There is a bit of a 3 ring circus going on at the moment between Qantas Group, Virgin and REX to build, retain, or establish a percentage of the domestic market. This is especially evident on the SYD-MEL route, but will expand as REX ramps up its domestic network.
In the short term this should benefit passengers with lower priced airfares, better on-time arrivals and more frequent services – although that may take time to build to pre-COVID-19 levels.
Premium food and beverage – although not as important as price – is a congtributing factor to business patronage of the pointy end of Virgin Australia domestic services.
In the longer term, one of these domestic players will be a loser, and like back in the capacity wars between Qantas and Virgin under John Borghetti – things will stabilise as the players run out of cash.