Virgin Blue unveils new domestic business class

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Virgin Blue has unveiled its new domestic business class that will premiere on its forthcoming Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The first two aircraft will commence operations on transcontinental routes between Sydney and Perth in May.

The carrier will also introduce a business class cabin on its domestic Boeing 737 fleet by the end of the year, although details were not revealed.

Chief executive John Borghetti says the business class seats on the A330s will help the carrier position itself "as the airline of choice for both the corporate and the leisure markets". He adds that the carrier is on track to have a 15% - 20% corporate market share.

The business class seat offers a 62" pitch in an undisclosed configuration. The seat is covered in dark padded leather "that feels as though you are driving a luxury sports car", says interior designer Hans Hulsbosch.

Hulsbosch, who is the carrier's creative director, says the A330 has "a very modern simplistic look that creates more space in the aircraft".

Although the seat is not lie-flat, it offers a deep recline and personal screen for an unspecified in-flight entertainment system. The carrier will also introduce a meal service for business class.

Economy class on the A330 will feature PTVs and further details will be announced in the coming weeks, Borghetti says.

Virgin Blue's first A330 will be delivered early next month from lessor BOC Aviation. Two A330 aircraft will enter in service in May and will operate on a thrice daily Sydney-Perth service from June, the carrier says. Virgin Blue has leased a further two A330 aircraft from Aircastle and CIT, the carrier says.

In addition to the A330 aircraft, Virgin Blue plans to take delivery of 22 aircraft over the next two years. Chief financial officer Keith Neate says the majority of those aircraft will replace existing aircraft coming off leases but adds that the carrier can adjust its fleet plan.

"We have the flexibility to increase or decrease capacity quite significantly should the market conditions change," Neate says.