Virgin Australia grows fleet to take on Qantas

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Virgin Australia will be growing its fleet from 89 to 112 aircraft by June 2013.

The carrier will take delivery of 28 Boeing 737NGs, six Airbus A330-200s, three Embraer 170/190s and 12 ATR 72 turboprops within the next year.

During this period, it will also retire and return some 26 737s and E-170/190s, the carrier said at an investor presentation in Australia.

With the new aircraft, Virgin plans to increase its flight frequencies on busy business routes between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, and also introduce the A330s on the Sydney-Perth route.

It will also add more turboprops, which are more fuel efficient, to compete on regional routes.

These new services are key to attracting more of the corporate market, says a spokesman.

"Our capacity plan is driven through a continued focus on yield and margin improvement opportunities on individual sectors as opposed to an overall group market share goal," he adds.

The carrier is also targeting to grow its domestic capacity by up to 11% for the 2012 financial year.

Another key focus is to break flag carrier Qantas Airways' monopolies in the corporate and government market and the business class sector.

Virgin introduced business class seats on most of its aircraft serving domestic routes earlier this year, a move that allows it to compete directly on Qantas' main profit-making market.

Last year, it also rebranded V Australia, Virgin Blue and Pacific Blue to come under its Virgin Australia banner. This single-brand rationalisation is seen as a move to better represent the airline in a renewed push into the Qantas-dominated corporate market.