VirginBlue has postponed the launch of its planned V Australia trans-Pacific services, scheduled for December 15, until at least February 28, because the machinists strike at Boeing will delay delivery of the first 777-300ER slated to perform the service.
Boeing has nearly finished three of the airline’s 777-300ERs, including one that it painted in V Australia’s new colors. The first aircraft sits on the Boeing flight line in Everett, Wash., virtually ready for delivery, except for galleys that need fitting by the striking machinists. As a result, Virgin Blue said it considered the only responsible course of action “was to nominate a revised V Australia launch date of February, 28, 2009, to protect the interests of its guests.” It now plans to launch its Sydney-Los Angeles service on that day.
It said it did not expect any effect on the March 1 launch of the Brisbane-Los Angeles service.
Beginning today, V Australia said it will start contacting all guests booked to travel in the Christmas/New Year period, from December, 15, 2008, to January, 16, 2009, to offer alternative arrangements.
The airline also suspended further advance ticket sales for travel between December 15 and February 28 in case the Boeing strike continues beyond its fourth week. Virgin Blue said that if the industrial dispute gets resolved in the short term, it would move swiftly to bring forward V Australia’s start-up schedule. The company said the affect of the delay “would be addressed between Virgin Blue and The Boeing Company at a later date.”
V Australia holds orders for eight 777-300ERs and options for another six. Apart from the two services to Los Angeles, its announced routes include Sydney to Johannesburg.