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Virgin Atlantic to invest £100 million in business class

Virgin Atlantic has pledged its biggest ever investment in its business-class (Upper Class) product – £100 million. The long-haul airline is seeking to increase its share of the business traveller market through a three-year programme of new product and service developments both on the ground and in the air, starting in spring 2012. The roll out will include an enhanced seat, a “futuristic” bar and other cabin updates. The new food service, inspired by fine dining, will include customised menus and new crockery.

The new Upper Class will launch on a new A330-300 serving the airline’s London to New York JFK morning flight before rolling out across all aircraft joining Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow fleet over the next three years. The onboard enhancements will also be supported by a new Clubhouse at JFK airport.

In developing its new Upper Class products, Virgin Atlantic recruited groups of its most frequent fliers to test the concepts and feed into the development – even allowing some to try out the beds with an overnight stay in the airline’s test facility.

“We know that two thirds of our transatlantic travellers already believe we offer a superior business-class experience to our rivals but that is no reason to stop reaching for the skies,” said Steve Ridgway, chief executive at Virgin Atlantic. “We have managed to grow our customer numbers across the Atlantic in the face of increased capacity and bigger airline alliances. We are confident that this new programme of investment will enable us to continue to take market share as the product becomes more widely available across the fleet.”

The airline says its transatlantic business-class bookings have started strongly in 2012, with a double-digit growth in demand for New York. Corporate clients from whom there has been a notable increase in Upper Class travel are the accountancy, retail and entertainment industries.


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