Virgin Blue Set for Take-Off to Los Angeles Open Skies Agreement Brings Competition to Routes From Down Under, Economic Boost to Southern California

SOURCE:

Los Angeles World Airports

2008-03-31 10:30:00

Virgin Blue Set for Take-Off to Los Angeles

Open Skies Agreement Brings Competition to Routes From Down Under, Economic Boost to Southern California

LOS ANGELES, CA–( EMWNews – March 31, 2008) – Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa announced

today that Virgin Blue International Airlines will launch non-stop service

between Australia and Los Angeles later this year under a new open-skies

agreement, continuing a trend among international carriers that are

choosing Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as their West Coast

gateway and adding to the billions of dollars in economic activity

generated in Southern California by overseas flights. Virgin Blue

Airlines, through its long-haul international carrier, V Australia, will

use the first of its 10 weekly allotments to launch non-stop service from

Australia to Los Angeles in December, operating between Sydney and LAX.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters and Australia’s Ambassador to

the U.S. Dennis Richardson were to sign the historic open-skies agreement

at a ceremony attended by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Mudd in

Washington, D.C., following announcements of the new air service in Sydney

and Los Angeles. The open-skies agreement was announced in February.

“I am thrilled that such an innovative airline offering value and

high-quality service to passengers has chosen Los Angeles as its front door

to the U.S.,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “It is a privilege to benefit so

quickly from the open-skies agreement lifting market restrictions and

allowing more air travel choices between both countries.”

Speaking upon his arrival from Sydney, where the new air service was

announced earlier in the day, Virgin Blue Airlines Group Chief Executive

Officer and Co-Founder Brett Godfrey praised the open-skies agreement and

said that with the initiation of the Australia-Los Angeles routes, air

passengers will be able to travel around the world on Virgin brand

airlines.

“The Australia-U.S. Open Skies agreement is a great achievement and a

significant change after almost twenty years of restrictive bi-laterals,”

said Godfrey. “The agreement and the approvals granted underline the

commitment of both governments to extensively liberalize Australia-U.S. air

services — a decision we strongly endorse and one which will bring

significant benefits to both countries.

“At Virgin Blue, we are particularly proud of the contributing role we have

played as a catalyst for the establishment of the agreement. It will

enable us to bring long awaited, genuine competition to the trans-Pacific

market,” Godfrey said.

The Virgin Blue chief executive added, “Eight years ago we launched Virgin

Blue, the first Virgin airline in Australian skies with just two planes and

200 staff. Today, we fly 15 million passengers a year to over 30

destinations in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific island

countries. We believe we have proven our ability through Virgin Blue to

stimulate change and innovation to the benefit of air travelers, tourism

and the economy, and V Australia will again be a catalyst for change, this

time in the arena of international aviation.

“V Australia is a brand new long-haul international airline for Australia,

focused first on the U.S. through our chosen gateway of Los Angeles and

bringing a brand new style of service to the trans-Pacific route. It’s

tremendously exciting and opens a whole new range of possibilities for

travelers and for tourism and trade development between our countries,”

Godfrey said.

The V Australia service will increase seat capacity between the U.S. and

Australia by 16 percent, which Mayor Villaraigosa said would continue to

stimulate new service and provide further benefits to passengers.

The V Australia flights are expected to generate an annual economic impact

of up to $872 million to Southern California, and sustain as many as 4,340

jobs with total wages of $218 million, based on the findings of a recent

economic analysis of overseas flights at LAX by the Los Angeles County

Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC).

V Australia will operate Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on the trans-Pacific

route, which Mayor Villaraigosa said will be welcomed by LAX neighbors

because it is “one of the most fuel efficient and green commercial aircraft

available.” V Australia will take delivery of its first 777-300ER in

September and it will be the first and only carrier to operate the aircraft

between Australia and the U.S.

V Australia is the ninth air carrier to begin or announce new international

service to LAX in the past year, continuing a trend toward increased

international air travel at LAX, which had consistently lost market share

since 2000, and solidifying LAX’s position as the leading Asia Pacific

gateway in the U.S.

In total, the nine carriers are adding 126 arrivals and departures per week

at LAX, with an estimated annual economic impact of more than $5.6 billion.

Overall, the new service will sustain 28,000 jobs paying cumulative wages

of $1.4 billion.

Other new or recently announced international service at LAX includes:


--  Air France - seven round-trips per week to London, which began March

    30 under the recent open-skies agreement between the U.S. and European

    Union;

--  Alitalia - five round-trips per week to Rome beginning in June;

--  British Airways - seven additional round-trips per week to London,

    which began in April 2007;

--  Emirates Airline - seven round-trips per week to Dubai beginning Sept.

    1;

--  EVA Air - three additional round-trips per week to Taipei via Osaka

    which began March 30;

--  Korean Air - three round-trips per week to São Paulo, Brazil,

    beginning June 2;

--  United Airlines - seven round-trips per week to Frankfurt, which began

    last December;

--  United Airlines - seven round-trips per week to Hong Kong, which began

    last October; and

--  Air China - seven additional round-trips per week to Beijing beginning

    in Summer 2009.

    

According to the LAEDC study released last year, one average daily,

round-trip, transoceanic flight of wide-body aircraft from LAX generated

$623 million in annual economic output, and sustained 3,120 direct and

indirect jobs in Southern California and $156 million in wages.

In 2006, international overseas flights at LAX, including airport

operations, visitor spending, and cargo services, generated more than $82

billion in total annual economic output in Southern California. They

sustained 362,700 direct and indirect jobs with more than $19 billion in

wages.

CONTACTS:
Office of the Mayor
Darryl Ryan
(213) 978-0741

LAWA/
Nancy Castles
(310) 646-5260

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