Whatever the fine details, which neither Richard Branson nor John Borghetti would reveal, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin’s global management, have  agreed that the name Virgin Australia is to apply to all the former Virgin Blue group brands by the end of December.

Tonight, the marketing blitz begins. By tomorrow there will be major new leisure market offerings. By the end of the week most of the signage associated with Virgin Blue will have been replaced, although the exterior of the fleet will change more slowly, with about one quarter of it rebranded by year’s end.

And, the middle market will be pursued with even more vigor than before.

Richard Branson,co founder of Virgin Blue and major shareholder in the renamed Virgin Australia group  said “It is quality at the top of the market that makes it possible to afford quality in the middle, and in the leisure end. That’s what we are doing now, with new economy seats and shiny new jets.”

John Borghetti, the first CEO of Virgin Australia,  said “Virgin Blue wasn’t in the middle. It was a carrier mainly selling low cost fares but with rising costs. We intend to keep and grow the middle market, the SME’s and individuals that have already come to us.”

However most of the single aisle fleet will be converted to offer a new business class product by the end of September or October. It will feature eight seats at 37 inches seat pitch.

The existing Live2 Air satellite TV product is being upgraded, perhaps even adding new capabilities like email and SMS but the details are under wraps.

There will be an all new frequent flyer program within several months.

Borghetti said the Asian strategy, to partner with carriers on Asia routes, would be in place by the end of the year, similar to the the existing arrangements with Etihad to Europe and Air NZ across the Tasman, and the approval pending deal with Delta.

However when asked if this would include Singapore Airlines he said only one thing had been agreed with the carrier, which owns 49 per percent of Virgin Atlantic, and that was the use of the Virgin branding on V Australia and Pacific Blue routes.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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