Sydney, Australia – British Billionaire and Virgin Boss Sir Richard Branson is readying his V Australia airline for a grand launch. The new airline, which was announced June last year, will challenge Qantas’s market control over Australia-US flights starting next year particularly the lucrative Sydney-Los Angeles route.
The 58-year-old Branson, who jetted into Australia to host the V Festival he organized, hopes to get the flights off the ground soon, with a target date of having air service from America to Australia on his V airline by next year.
Branson’s British-based international airline Virgin Atlantic and Brisbane-based domestic airline Virgin Blue already compete with Qantas on the Britain-Australia route and local routes in Australia.
In 2006, Virgin Blue announced its plans to operate up to seven flights a week to the US either through Los Angeles or San Francisco. In July 2007, Australian regulatory bodies granted approval for Virgin Blue to operate up to 10 flights a week.
Virgin Blue purchased six Boeing 777-300ER airplanes from Boeing for international flights and plans are underway to lease a seventh aircraft from another company.
Branson’s three Australasian airlines – Virgin Blue, New Zealand’s Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue – operate a fleet of 53 modern Boeing 737 aircraft flying to eight international and 22 Australian destinations.