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Virgin chief Hrdlicka's vision for a lean airline flying a middle course


Virgin Australia will shut its Mackay, Cairns and Darwin business lounges as it sets course to win a third of the domestic market share.

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On her first day on the job as the reborn airline’s chief executive, Jayne Hrdlicka has sketched out the business model for Virgin that will be strictly middle of the road.

She said Virgin Mk II would aim for somewhere between the low-cost Jetstar and the full-service Qantas.

Business class will be retained but will be thoroughly reviewed before a relaunch next year. EconomyX will also be retained.

The much-maligned snacks will go and be replaced with an onboard menu for meals.

Its inflight entertainment and wifi will also be reviewed as will the Canberra business lounge.

The Brisbane business lounge reopened today and others will be reopened as demand grows.

Check-ins and bag drops will be more automated to speed up the service.

No details have been released on domestic routes but the company said there would be comprehensive regional and domestic services. Virgin Australia Regional Airlines would be restructured and made more sustainable.

“Today we exit voluntary administration with a renewed sense of who we are and who we are here to serve,’’ Hrdlicka said.

“The travel environment is changing and so out our customers’ preferences.

“We know that leisure travelers, small and medium businesses and many corporates are now emerging from COVID-19 wanting better value.

“They are hungry for flexibility and choice, a trusted brand that resonates with their values and great prices, along with the premium features they value most.

“Today we have announced a plan that will ultimately give our customers what they value without the big price tag: premium lounges, a new and fresh retail offering onboard, a choice of cabins, better digital technology and a more streamlined check-in experience.

“We emerge today stronger, more competitive and ready to face the challenges ahead.’’

She said a lot of complexity had been removed from the business, the cost base had been improved and the airline was more resilient than ever.

“We expect continued volatility, but as demand recovers we’ll achieve market share consistent with our pre-COVID position and continue to invest in – and grow – the fleet in line with increases in demand,” she said.

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