Following the overnight provisional approval by the US of the Virgin Australia-Delta Airlines alliance the Australian carrier is lining up a comprehensive set of arrangements to cover all of Asia, north, south-east, and China, Japan and Korea, by December 31.
In a teleconference, Virgin Australia’s CEO John Borghetti wouldn’t be drawn on it being a one carrier solution, but volunteered that it “could be two, three or four” instead of possibly one.
Which leads inescapably to the conclusion that it will be multiple carriers, since to be competitive Virgin Australia will need to be able to sell code shared seats on non-stop flights to the key destinations.
Notwithstanding the delights of transiting Singapore Airport, or Hong Kong.
A quick look at the Delta route map also shows that the US carrier has a substantial network of non-stop flights between the US and major centres in China and Japan, for example.
Not to overlook the non-stop flights Singapore Airlines makes to Newark (for New York) and Los Angeles. Borghetti urged reporters to look at route maps and connect the dots, so there. It leaps from the maps!
Borghetti also linked the new Delta alliance and the forthcoming ‘AsiaFlyer’ arrangements if we can hazard a guess at a marketing name, to universal earn and burn of points on all of those routes in the soon to be launched all new Virgin Australian frequent flyer loyalty program. Maybe it will be called “Asia All Points”?
Maybe Plane Talking is getting way, way, too ahead of events. But it was an upbeat conference, a rarity in airline briefings in recent times.
The contrast between Qantas talking about how it is struggling to turn a dollar on international routes and Virgin Australia talking about how it is going to make everyone else fly internationally for it is impossible to ignore.
The aviation media is probably going to start calling Borghetti just to break fits of depression.
By coincidence, much earlier this morning, about the same time the US Department of Transportation was announcing the transformation that the most recent filing by Delta and Virgin Australia had inflicted on its previous disapproval of their planned dalliance, er, alliance, Borghetti says he was clinching a deal to send all six of his Embraer E-70 jets to a five year working holiday with his new American partner.
“The first of them goes this afternoon,” he said. “I’m going to go outside my office to wave it goodbye.”
The economics of the 76 seat E-70s never worked for the airline, however Borghetti said the 104 seat E-90s would definitely be staying, indeed would be totally refurbished with the new business class product and new economy seats as soon as the Boeing 737s were all converted to the new products announced last week at the Virgin Australia launch.