Virgin to offer Sydney-LA flights: Branson

Written by AFP | Sydney, March 31: | Updated: Mar 31 2008, 14:23pm hrs
Virgin Blue's new carrier V Australia will fly daily between Sydney and Los Angeles when it takes to the skies in December, the airline's founder Richard Branson said on Monday.

Branson said the trans-Pacific route, currently serviced only by Australian carrier Qantas and US airlines United and Hawaiian, was in "dire need of competition and a good shake-up."

His announcement comes weeks after Australia and the United States agreed to an "open skies" policy that allows Australian and US airlines to determine trans-Pacific routes and services independent of government involvement.

Branson said the launch of the daily V Australia flights would give the Virgin Group a global network for the first time.

"Flights to the United States are the obvious last piece of the puzzle," the British billionaire told reporters in Sydney.

Virgin Blue said that V Australia will add more US services to its daily schedule once it takes delivery of more new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, adding that the airline was also looking at other international destinations.