Australian low-cost carrier Virgin Blue has received approval from its board to launch long-haul services. The airline says it will now expedite the planning and implementation of the launch of transpacific services to the USA. It expects to launch long-haul operations by late 2008, pending regulatory approval, the granting of adequate bilateral access and the completion of negotiations for long-haul aircraft. One unresolved issue is for the USA and Australia to renegotiate the current bilateral agreement, which offers only four frequencies a week. Earlier this year the airline issued a request for proposals for long-haul aircraft to operate the services, with the Airbus A340 and Boeing 777 under consideration.

Source: Flight International