AS its new London-Dubai route has turned into its second busiest within a month of operations, Virgin Atlantic has unveiled a new three-year growth plan to capture greater business market share, with products tailored towards premium passengers at the heart of the strategy.
The airline is targeting an increase of at least 10 per cent in the number of business travellers over the next year. At least part of that increase will be met by travellers on new routes such as the London-Dubai route, where demand is higher than expected, leading the airline to reconsider its schedule. The route will go daily from June 1, but a ‘very high’ load factor of 80 per cent is prompting it to look at adding a second daily frequency.
A combination of new and extended business routes – such as a sixth daily service between London and New York – as well as offering the award-winning Upper Class Suite on all routes, will enable Virgin Atlantic to offer the best business service in the air. The Upper Class Suite features the longest fully-flat bed in any business class.
On the ground, Virgin Atlantic is also extending its facilities for business passengers. The new London Heathrow Clubhouse features the ultimate pre-travel experience, including Jacuzzi and spa treatments, pool table and roof garden. There will also be an increased focus on DIY check-in online or at the airport, making the Virgin experience as seamless as possible.
The three-year growth plan, aimed at further boosting operating margins and building continuing profitability, also includes exciting changes for travellers using Premium Economy and Economy. Trials are already underway for new seating in both classes, with a continuing emphasis on space and comfort.
Virgin Atlantic also intends to expand its leisure operations, with a new routes to Montego Bay, Jamaica, being launched this year. Working further with the travel trade, Virgin Holidays will be increasing its sales footprint, with more destinations on offer than ever before.
The next three years will also see major changes for Virgin Atlantic passengers at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3, where plans are underway to significantly speed up the check-in and boarding process.
Meanwhile sister company Virgin Galactic is on track to become the world’s first commercial spaceline, with suborbital flights for space tourists due to start in 2008. It will offer space flights for $200,000, and says it has already received more than 150 firm reservations and taken $13.1 million in deposits, including some from tourists in the region.
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