Any lingering doubts about Virgin Blue going after Qantas rather than Jetstar or Tiger disappeared at noon today when it announced a “red leather” premium economy class for all jets.

The seats are wide and two abreast, and will apparently be sold for less than whatever Qantas sells its domestic business class.

Which means in airline terms that WWIII is now on between the Virgins and the Red kangaroosters at Qantas.

This is especially true on the Perth transcontinentals, where Virgin Blue covets the corporate accounts that feed business class flyers onto trans Pacific flights from Sydney and Melbourne.

Virgin Blue starts competing with Qantas to California late next year. This isn’t just a domestic brawl but a long haul one as well, as it has already claimed to be planning to upstage the new business class Qantas intends putting into its A380s.

And back on the Canberra route, those tight Qantaslink turboprops are going to be up against two class Embraer jets.

Watch for the empire to strike back at Qantas. Who knows, maybe it will even CUT its transPacific fares from their much criticised level.

Peter Fray

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