Virgin Atlantic

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Virgin Atlantic Airways came from an idea taken to Richard Branson by Randolph Fields in the early 1980's. Original called British Atlantic Airways, VAA first flew from Gatwick to Newark with their single 747 on 22nd June 1984.

Branson took the torch from Sir Freddie Laker's Skytrain operation - which had been the pioneer of discounted transatlantic air travel, but suffered at the hands of BA's price war to eliminate the competition. Virgin too didn't have an easy ride with BA, and won substaintial damages from them after successfully proving their 'Dirty Tricks' campaign.

Two years after their first flight to Newark, Virgin introduced a scheduled service to Miami in 1986. This was followed two years later with Orlando in 1988. By the end of the 1980's, Virgin added a slew of new routes including Tokyo in May 1989, JFK in August 1989 and Los Angeles in May 1990.

By their tenth anniversay in 1994, Virgin were flying to Boston, Hong Hong and San Francisco.

Virgin also created regional services under the separate banners of Virgin Express in Europe and Virgin Blue (and Pacific Blue) in Australia.

Virgin are known for their innovation, and the intense competition with BA on the transatlantic routes has pushed forward services unlike any other carriers in the world. Virgin were the first airline to introduce personal inflight entertainment systems in Economy, and they have re-defined business class pushing it way beyond the expectations of even a first class product only a decade earlier.

Virgin and BA raced to introduce flat beds in business class. A race which BA won, pipping Virgin to the post just months before the introduction of its J2000 seat. Virgin responded by investing heavily in the Upper Class Suite - the largest flat bed in the sky, let alone a business class product.

On their 20th anniversary, Virgin announced the service to Sydney - a route Sir Richard Branson had dearly wanted to fly for many years.

Future growth for the...
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