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VIRGIN SEEKS TO DELAY FLEET DELIVERY – VIRGIN BLUE IS ASKING BOEING TO DELAY DELIVERY OF SOME OF ITS 777s BECAUSE OF A STRIKE BY BOEING MACHINISTS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 6, 2008

December 06, 2008

by Steve Creedy – Article from The Australian

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE AUSTRALIAN’

The industrial action has meant the launch of Virgin’s V Australia has been pushed into the traditionally quiet post-holiday period.

The airline is due to get two of Boeing’s aircraft shortly and might beat its revised launch date for its international offshoot of February 28.

Virgin Blue had originally planned to launch in mid-December to take advantage of the Christmas peak, but was forced to push the date back when a machinists strike at Boeing meant it was unable to get its planes in time.

The delay is understood to have cost the airline about $3million, as it was forced to rebook passengers on alternative flights and keep staff employed without revenue coming in. It has also been forced to cut the price of tickets to reflect the fact it is now launching in a period of lower consumer demand.

It now wants to delay delivery of aircraft three and four to give it time to bed down its initial operations.

Chief executive Brett Godfrey said the airline was talking to Boeing about delivery dates and was seeking flexibility from Boeing given the pain the US aircraft maker had caused it.

He said it was asking for a delay so the first four planes were not delivered so closely together.

“We’re going to have our aeroplanes but I just don’t want them here all at the same time before we launch,” he said.

“So the work I have to do before Christmas is firm up that we can hopefully slide some of the later ones a little bit back. But we’re very much on track for the end of February.”

Mr Godfrey said Virgin did not have the resources to take four aircraft within the space of time proposed by Boeing.

“And secondly I’d like to get into the market first before we ramp ourselves up to full production,” he said.

“Which is what the plan was in December. If you recall, we were going to launch Sydney-LA on December 15 and not look at any further capacity until we launched Brisbane on March 1.”

Mr Godfrey said the airline was still looking at capacity cuts on domestic routes but said it was not panicking.

He said he was somewhat reassured by third-quarter figures and was now focused on what was going to happen this quarter.

Mr Godfrey said he believed Australians would still travel, but stay closer to home.

“I’m still a firm believer that retail sales are not a reflection of aviation any more,” he said. “People will put off a car right now, they’ll put off a white good or a flat screen TV.

“But they still want to travel at Christmas time and they’ve still got used to the fact that travel has become so affordable that it’s become part of their everyday lives.”

Meanwhile, figures released this week suggest budget travellers in Australia are in for a good Christmas, with the lowest airfares at a record low for December. Figures show that the best discount fares at the start of the month were 25 per cent cheaper than in December last year. Tourism groups are urging travellers to take advantage of the low fares and catch domestic flights.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE AUSTRALIAN’

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