Virgin Australia is part of the Virgin Group. Founded in 1970 by Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group has become an important global brand in the 21st century. Since the establishment of the first company, Virgin Records, the Group has created more than 300 branded companies worldwide, with a workforce of 50,000 people, in 30 countries. These companies are from financial services, mobile telephony, media, transportation, travel, music and fitness, etc.
In 2000, Virgin Blue’s first flight was DJ214 from Brisbane to Sydney on 31 August 2000. The airline had one route and two aircraft.
In 2001, 14 new routes were launched, expanding to a true national domestic network. Virgin Australia welcomed its millionth Guest onboard in June 2001.
In 2002, nine new routes were launched. Patrick Corporation acquired a 50 per cent share in Virgin Blue Airlines.
In 2003, Virgin Blue Holidays, Virgin Blue’s holiday arm, was launched. Virgin Blue Holdings floated on the Australian Stock Exchange in December 2003, and Patrick Corporation invested a further $137m at the time of the Initial Public Offering.
In 2004, Pacific Blue, a New Zealand-based leisure-focussed international airline, was launched, offering flights between Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu.
In 2005, another Blue airline, Polynesian Blue, was launched in partnership with the Government of Samoa, with the first flight departing Auckland for Apia. Patrick Corporation acquired a further 17 per cent of Virgin Blue for $346m, giving it a controlling 62.4 per cent stake in the company.
Also in 2005, Virgin Blue became the first Australian airline to offer an online Web Check-In service, and Virgin Blue’s 50th aircraft went into service.
In 2006, Toll Holdings acquired Patrick Corporation, therefore, taking a controlling 63 per cent shareholding in Virgin Blue.
In 2007, plans to establish a long haul international airline, V Australia, were announced, and Pacific Blue launched domestic services in New Zealand.
In 2008, Virgin Blue’s Premium Economy product was launched.
In 2009, V Australia flies for the first time from Sydney to Los Angeles (February) and Brisbane to Los Angeles (April).
In 2010, Virgin Blue became the first Australian airline to offer remote check-in via mobile devices, called “Check-Mate!”, won the Best Low-Cost Airline (Australia/Pacific), in the 2010 Skytrax World Airline Awards and announced the introduction of four Airbus A330-200 aircraft to operate Australian trans-continental routes (two scheduled for delivery in May 2011 and two for early 2012).
In December 2010, final approval was received after Virgin Blue Group of Airlines and Air New Zealand have sought regulatory approval to create a trans-Tasman alliance.
In 2011, Virgin Australia is announced as the company’s new name, and the international airlines, Pacific Blue and V Australia, adopt the Virgin Australia brand. New lounges open in Melbourne and Brisbane, while ATR-72 aircraft enter into service on key regional routes
In 2012, Virgin Australia was awarded ‘Best Airline’ and ‘Best Staff Service’ in the 2012 Skytrax World Airline Awards. The airline began flying in New Zealand (formerly Pacific Blue), and Virgin Samoa (formerly Polynesian Blue) took-off in Samoa.
In 2013, Virgin Australia has officially launched its new wireless in-flight entertainment system, representing a new era in the way passengers experience entertainment on board. The entertainment platform is the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific region, giving passengers the ability to stream content to their own devices (laptops, tablets and smartphones) through in-built wireless technology on board.
On October 2014, Virgin Australia Holdings took full control of Tigerair Australia. After purchasing 60% of Tigerair Australia in July 2013, Virgin acquired the remaining 40% for $1.
In August 2015, Virgin Australia converted its outstanding order for 17 Boeing B737-800 aircraft to the Boeing 737 MAX 8 model. With the 23 Boeing B737 MAX 8 aircraft already on order, this conversion brings the order for this type to a total of 40 aircraft, with the first delivery for 2018.
In 2016, Virgin Australia introduced new Business class and Economy Premium cabins on its long-haul international routes on board Boeing 777 aircraft. The 37 new Business Class “suites”‘ in a 1-2-1 layout convert to a lie-flat bed 80 inches long (203 cm – the length of a queen-sized bed). The 24 Premium seats have a seat pitch of 41 inches (104 cm), offering in this class more legroom than any other Australian airline. Virgin Australia also launched Economy Space+ seats, offering, for a price, more legroom in Economy class.
In May 2017, Virgin Australia has today launched Economy X seats across its entire fleet, providing enhanced traveling experience. Economy X seats replace Economy Space + seats and include the following features: extra legroom, preferred overhead locker space, priority check-in and boarding (where available), as well as priority security screening on domestic flights only, and guaranteed first meal choice and noise-canceling headphones on international long-haul flights only.
Virgin Australia has had no major accident or fatality in its history.