Friday, 23 August 2013
100 Happy Virgins
Firstly let me apologise to anyone who actually follows my blogs. I haven't written much in a couple of months; been too distracted playing airline empires.
But tonight I return, not with any great pearls of aviation wisdom, perception or crap, but just to celebrate with Virgin Australia on the delivery of their 100th Boeing 737.
I know, I know, lots of airlines fly 100 B737's or more. Some fly two or three times more. But Australia is not a big country. Well, actually it is. It's about the same size as the USA, or you could fit pretty much all of western Europe into it.
But our entire national population is only about 22 million. The United Kingdom has three times that number & yet you could fit England, Scotland & Wales into the Australian state of Victoria. And Victoria is one of our smallest states. Let's just say we like to spread ourselves out. Having a great big desert in the middle of your country also helps.
Virgin Australia started with only two leased B737's, only $10m in the bank (courtesy of Mr Branson), & a lot of balls (also borrowed from Mr Branson). They started at a time when Qantas & Ansett dominated Australian domestic aviation in a cosy duopoly, while others who tried to break into it neither lived long nor prospered. Then known as Virgin Blue, their motto was "keeping the air fair".
September 11 2001 was a terrible day for humanity, & the flow-on effects put many airlines into bankruptcy. But what few in Australia knew was that the very day before, September 10 2001, Australia's 2nd biggest & equally iconic airline, Ansett Australia, was already bankrupt. It's owners, Air New Zealand no less, were offering it for a song to Qantas; literally handing them complete domination of the Australian skies. Qantas said they would think about it & get back to them. The next day they decided it wasn't a good day to buy an
airline. And whilst Australians, like the rest of the world, sat glued to their news broadcasts, another lesser story but closer to home suddenly broke - Ansett was gone.
Whilst it was no time to gloat, Virgin Blue realised it had been suddenly thrown a break. And whilst Qantas scrambled to find additional capacity, Virgin Blue humbly stepped up to the plate. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Congratulations, Virgin Australia, on your evolution into a trusted, quality airline. Congratulation in succeeding where many had failed. Congratulations on the success of your engaged, customer-focused management & staff, on the proliferation of your brand, & on your growing network into the regional, low cost & premium airline markets.
Live long & prosper. You've earned it.
The photographs presented here are from Virgin Australia's Facebook page & used in full credit, respect & recognition of their uber awesomeness.