Why did Ansett Australia fall

Portrait of the airline Virgin Blue

Virgin Blue




owned by Virgin Blue Holdings



Route network:

within Australia as well as from New Zealand and Samoa


In 1999, Sir Richard Branson, head of the Virgin Group, which includes Virgin Atlantic Airlines as well as the music label, announced the establishment of an Australian subsidiary. The aim was to establish the low-cost model on the fifth continent and to put the top dogs Qantas and Ansett Australia under pressure.

In December 1999 the Australian government gave the go-ahead. The new airline was christened Virgin Blue after a competition, with the blue meaning a redhead in Australian slang. On August 31, 2000 the time had come: in time for the Olympic Games, the first of two Boeing 737-400s took off from Brisbane for Sydney. This was followed by the Brisbane - Melbourne and Brisbane - Adelaide connections.

Qantas strikes back
The Australians enthusiastically accepted the new cheap product. The already ailing Ansett Australia, which finally ceased operations in April 2001, suffered from this in particular. The Impulse airline, which had existed since 1994, had since switched to the low-cost model, but did not have the strength to hold its own against Qantas and VirginBlue. The airline was sold to Qantas in May 2001 and continued to fly as Qantas Link.
Virgin Blue quickly expanded its 737 fleet and opened one new connection after the other. Soon 30% of the domestic market was conquered. Now Qantas had to react and founded JetStar Airways in May 2004 with the Boeing 717, which it had inherited from Impulse.

Internal power struggles
Sir Richard had meanwhile acquired shares in Virgin Blue in the shipping company Patrick Corp. sold and further shares placed on the stock exchange in 2003 to finance the airline's further expansion. Over the next few months, Patrick bought additional shares on the stock exchange and soon gained a majority. Branson now approached competitor Toll Holding so that they could buy shares on the stock exchange. But Toll wanted to swallow the competitor completely including the port facilities and prepared a hostile takeover. The first attempt was fought off by Patrick but in May 2006 they put down their guns. The group is currently being rebuilt. Toll wants to sell almost all of Patrick's shares in Virgin Blue. 15% should go to the Virgin Group, which would then regain a majority over Virgin Blue.

Overseas daughters
In 2003, the first plans emerged to set up international routes to New Zealand or the Pacific Islands. For this purpose, the New Zealand subsidiary Pacific Blue was founded, which began operations on January 29, 2004 on the Christchurch - Brisbane route. Flights from Auckland and Wellington soon followed. Here, too, the low-cost model was enthusiastically received. Qantas and Air New Zealand responded with price cuts on routes between the two countries.
When the Samoa government sought a joint venture partner for Polynesian Airlines, Qantas and Air New Zealand were left behind. Polynesian Blue was the name of the new subsidiary, in which Virgin Blue has a 49% stake. On October 30, 2005, the 737-800 started for the first time in Apia and headed for Auckland and Sydney.

Virgin Blue has grown rapidly over the past few years. This was also due to the fact that one was simply forced to use the many aircraft that had been ordered. In the course of September 11, 2001, the prices on the aircraft market had fallen massively - the temptation was probably too great. There may be more overseas subsidiaries soon. Rival JetStar will begin flights to Southeast Asia and the Pacific region in 2007. Virgin Blue applied for flights to the USA and would then use the Virgin Atlantic A340-300. First, however, with the Embraer 190, smaller jets are being introduced on less frequented routes. Virgin Blue is moving more and more away from the original low-cost model - just one type of aircraft and no long-haul flights. There is now even talk of a freighter fleet for Toll Holding. The last chapter Down Under has not yet been written.


22 Boeing 737-700
26 Boeing 737-800
11 Embraer 170 (ordered)
3 Embraer 190 (ordered)



Flights with the Virgin Blue can also be found in the database for Compare cheap flights