Sunday, February 8, 2009

Our newest airline, and another on the way

Yesterday saw the arrival of a brand new airline at LAX: V Australia, which is the international arm of Virgin Blue. Virgin Blue is the Australian equivalent of Virgin America here in the states: another of Richard Branson's start-ups, of which Virgin Atlantic is yet another. Unlike the other Virgin operations (Atlantic and America) here at LAX, V Australia is using Boeings: brand new B777-300's. In fact, the airline had to delay starting its service due to aircraft delivery hold ups created by a strike at Boeing last year. According to their website, scheduled service to Sidney will start on the 27th of this month, with daily service starting on March 21st - I suppose that's when they'll get their next airplane. Service to Brisbane begins in April, and Melbourne will be added in September.

Their arrival on Friday was for inaugural festivities, as well as for checking that the big Boeing would fit at their assigned gates at Terminal 3. Prior to this, the largest aircraft that I can recall operating out of Terminal 3 were Amtran's Tristars. V Australia will be in direct competition with Qantas on the Brisbane and Melbourne routes, both Qantas and United on the LAX to Sidney route. This could be interesting, since we're hearing rumors that Qantas already hasn't been able to fill all the seats on their A380's. Advertised round trip fares to Sidney are under $800 (not counting fees and taxes) at both Qantas and V Australia.

Another Qantas A380 rumor that I just heard this past week is that the airline is seriously considering pulling the A380's out of LAX in favor of San Francisco. Supporting this idea is the real fact that the A380 has yet to depart out of LAX on time. Any A380 movement on the airport requires a good bit of coordination between airport operations, the tower, and other affected ramp operations. I've been told that it takes five City Operations escorts to manage vehicle traffic on the access roads when the A380 is moving, regardless of whether it's under power or being towed. Each time this happens, the vehicle traffic gets seriously snarled due to blocked intersections and road segments. This can in turn affect movement of other aircraft, and has been a real problem during instances when the A380 cannot immediately get onto its assigned gate or ramp. We're still expecting Singapore and perhaps Emirates to bring in A380's, and having multiple A380's on the field can't make things any better - which might be part of Qantas' reasoning (if that's in fact the case - remember, I'm rumor-mongering here).

My first view of the V Australia B773: Friday afternoon, parked on the Imperial Terminal ramp.

Saturday, they moved it over to Terminal 3, where Virgin America now parks. Seen here at Gate 34, the B777 takes up all the space at Gate 35 as well. The other designated gate for it is Gate 38, which is at the bottom left of this shot: The jetway extends off the left side of frame.

A better view of the V Australia tail.

One more rumor that I've recently heard is that Jet Blue is going to make another try at starting service at LAX, flying to Boston and JFK. You may recall that we were expecting them to start service here last May or June, but just a couple of weeks before the start date they announced that they were going to hold off. Jet Blue already flies out of Long Beach and Burbank, and the Jet Blue planes that we've seen here at LAX are usually weather diversions from one of those. Checking Jet Blue's website, it looks like they'll be starting service on June 17th.

A Jet Blue A320 departing off LAX's runway 25 right, early one morning last year: The flight had diverted into LAX the night before due to fog at Long Beach. Jet Blue also operates Embraer E190's.

1 comment:

  1. We, or at least, I need a pictorial chart of all the various aircraft to which you often refer. Clearly some are big others huge but a direct comparison would be helpful. Labeling of their parts would be useful too.
    Still like the plane shots!