Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia’s consulting chef Luke Mangan offers restaurant guests a sample of airline food at his ‘Test Kitchen’

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By Raymond Kollau,

In the past few years, Virgin Australia has transformed from a cheap and cheerful low-cost carrier to a ‘no-frills chic’ airline in order to appeal to more travellers in Australia, especially those travelling on business.

On the catering front, the airline has teamed with top Australian chef Luke Mangan as its consulting chef. The well-known restaurateur is responsible for all menus served onboard the airline and in its lounges, and came on board several years ago after he cooked for Richard Branson on Branson’s Caribbean retreat, Necker Island.

Test Kitchen
Since May of this year, Mangan is offering customers the chance to sample ideas for new Virgin Australia airline meals at his new headquarters in Sydney. Earlier this year, Mangan opened its ‘Headquarters by Luke Mangan’ in a former warehouse in trendy Dank Street in Sydney.

The building includes a mix of a head office, warehouse, the ‘Mojo’ wine and tapas bar, a new formula called ‘Test Kitchen’, and a dining and functions space all under the same roof. The large open space is fitted with polished concrete floors, industrial furnishings, hanging light bulbs encased in cage-like structures and lofty ceilings stacked with crates of Mangan’s branded products and is inspired by a typical New York style warehouse.

As the name suggests, the Test Kitchen is an open plan test and development kitchen to develop and test new recipes for Mangan’s roster of national and international restaurants. It is here that guests will randomly be given the chance to eat airline meals and vote on them.
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Virgin Blue rebrands as ‘no-frills chic’ Virgin Australia

More images at Australian Business Traveller

We have reported before on the plans by Australian hybrid low-cost airline Virgin Blue to reposition itself as a more direct competitor to Qantas and double its share of Australia’s corporate travel market from 10 to 20 percent. Virgin Blue has just officially unveiled its new name – Virgin Australia – and new livery. The rebranding completes 10-year old Virgin Blue’s revamp into a ‘no-frills chic’ airline. Says Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti, “We will still offer low airfares, keeping the competition in the sky high.”

Virgin Australia
Virgin Blue and its associate airlines—V Australia and Pacific Blue—will be rebranded Virgin Australia after the Virgin Group reached an agreement with Singapore Airlines (SIA) regarding the use of the Virgin name on international services to/from Australia. As part of its acquisition of a 49 percent steke in Virgin Atlantic back in 2000, SIA was given a veto on the use of the Virgin brand in the Asia-Pacific region outside of Australia, forcing Virgin Blue to brand its international operations Pacific Blue for regional services and V Australia for long-haul operations. Virgin Australia (tagline “Now You Are Flying”) will replace the domestic Virgin Blue brand immediately and international brands V Australia and Pacific Blue by the end of 2011.

B737-800 Sky Interior
Virgin Austalia also showcased the widebody and narrow-body versions of its new product on an Airbus A330 and Boeing 737. The new makeover, both exterior and interior, is styled after the carrier’s U.S. sister airline Virgin America.

Virgin Austalia ‘s newest 737-800 comes in Boeing’s new Sky Interior, which features mood lighting, larger overhead lockers and sculpted sidewalls designed to provide a feeling of spaciousness. Virgin Australia’s 737-800 also debuts a new business class cabin with eight leather seats with a 37-inch seat pitch. A purple plexiglass dividing panel, also found on Virgin America’s jets, separates the business and economy sections and the LED lighting will be purple and white. The new Boeing 737-800 interiors will be rolled out across the majority of Virgin Australia’s current domestic fleet by the end of the year. Virgin Australia also said it will announce an innovative entertainment option shortly, which suggests it may be looking at iPads or similar devices.
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