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Virgin ups Business Class ante on Perth flights

Virgin Australia's new Business Class on the Boeing 737 fleet

 BY JAMES WILKINSON

Virgin Australia has upped the ante on trans-continental flights, with the carrier now offering business class on every departure from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Perth and vice-versa.

A number of brand new Boeing 737 aircraft featuring two rows of Business Class have been delivered to the former low-cost carrier this year and those aircraft will complement the existing Airbus A330-200 services from Sydney to Perth.

Set to commence flying on the route from September 28, 2011, the Boeing 737 Business Class offers a similar seat and the same service as the Airbus A330, but those up the front won’t have seat-back entertainment, with Virgin instead opting to provide guests with Digiplayer XTs loaded with six movies, ten television programs and a selection of music.

Virgin Australia Group Executive Commercial Liz Savage said the new Business Class offering would come at a competitive price for travellers.

“I’m pleased to announce our Business Class fares are now on sale commencing from $1299, representing great value for money on every coast to coast departure,” she said.

“Our Business Class cabin with the new Boeing ‘Sky Interior’ sets Virgin Australia apart for in cabin style and comfort with luxurious leather seating with 38-inch seat pitch and gourmet Luke Mangan designed meals,” she said.

Those on Business Class fares will also receive priority check-in and boarding, along with entry to the Virgin Australia lounge and, for a limited time, complimentary limousine transfers within 60 kilometres from the airport at either ends of the journey.

The majority of the Boeing 737 aircraft fitted with the Business Class seats are those that feature the new Boeing Sky Interior – a new style of cabin that was recently introduced by the manufacturer and one that offers an enhances an increased amount of space thanks primarily to the re-design of the overhead bins.

However, those in Economy on the new Boeing 737s will find a major change from the rest of the 737 fleet – no seatback in-flight entertainment.

While the Airbus A330-200s are fitted with an on-demand in-flight entertainment system that’s similar to what’s on offer on V Australia’s Boeing 777-300ERs, the new 737-800s are yet to receive any TVs.

Industry speculation is rife that the Live2Air system that broadcasts live Austar and Foxtel would not be installed on the new 737-800s and removed from the remainder of the existing 737 fleet, instead replaced by a similar system to the A330s and B777s.

When asked if this was the case, a spokesperson for Virgin Australia said the airline was “still assessing options at this stage and will make an announcement in coming months”.

Either way, consumers are set to benefit from any in-flight entertainment move by Virgin Australia as the airline continues to chase a larger share of the nation’s government and business travel market.

Live television or a range of films is still a long way from how the airline started out 11 years ago as a low-cost carrier with just four aircraft operating from no-frills terminals around the nation.

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