V Australia, the long-haul arm of the Virgin Blue Group, will launch direct flights between Johannesburg, South Africa and Melbourne, Australia in March 2010 assuming it receives the requisite government approval.
The airline launched flights between Australia and Los Angeles in February this year and V Australia is the sister carrier to Sir Richard Branson‘s other long haul airline, Virgin Atlantic Airways, which already operates flights from the United Kingdom to Johannesburg.
V Australia aims to begin flying between Australia and South Africa on 13 March 2010, so it will be able to fly football fans from Australia to Johannesburg for the FIFA World Cup in June and July. Flights between Johannesburg to Melbourne operate twice weekly and Virgin Blue will offer connections to other Australian cities including Sydney and Brisbane.
The new carrier operates a fleet of new Boeing 777-300ERs. V Australia offers a three-class service including International Business, International Premium Economy and International Economy.
The airline offers its premium-class passengers a range of special features including a sit-down in-flight bar, fully lie-flat beds and “privacy suite” seating options in Business Class, as well as complimentary thongs and salt and pepper shakers in the shape of the Sydney Opera House that are gifted to Business Class passengers.
The aircraft also features Australian animals hidden in wallpaper murals on the bathroom walls, a Ladies Only Toilet and the Southern Cross sky twinkling on the cabin roof through its innovative mood lighting system. Every V Australia Guest across all cabins receives access to Virgin’s “Red” individual seat back in-flight entertainment providing a wide array of films, music and games.
The commencement of V Australia flights to Johannesburg will mean South African travellers will be able to fly all around the world on a Virgin airline: to Australia and then across to Los Angeles on V Australia, on to New York on Virgin America, followed by a flight to London and then back to South Africa on Virgin Atlantic.
Once it receives government approval for its planned service, V Australia plans to announce special fares between South Africa and Australia, signaling a new era of airfare competition on South Africa-Australia routes.