SOURCE: Los Angeles World Airports

Los Angeles World Airports

February 26, 2009 09:00 ET

MEDIA ALERT: Touch Down!! Sir Richard Branson and Inaugural V Australia Guests Land in L.A.

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - February 26, 2009) - The inaugural flight of V Australia will land at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 27, with Sir Richard Branson bringing in a group of special guests as part of launch-flight celebrations.

The new service was made possible by the historic signing of an open-skies agreement between Australia and the U.S. a year ago.

V Australia is the new boutique long-haul airline operating trans-Pacific services under the Virgin Blue Group banner and, from tomorrow, will offer direct flights between Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia. V Australia will host a launch event and celebrity charity fundraiser Friday evening at Chateau Marmont as part of its arrival celebrations.

The airline's inaugural service heralds the beginning of a new era of competition at a time when stimulus for travel and tourism is especially needed.

Travel industry officials report that V Australia's entry into the Australia-U.S. route has already led to dramatically lower fares on the route. V Australia is working with U.S. travel agents, the tourism industry and business partners to further stimulate travel between the two countries and bring economic benefits through tourism and business opportunities.

The airline will operate newly delivered Boeing 777-300ER (extended range) aircraft with a variety of special features throughout the three-class cabin, including a women-only lavatory, two in-flight bars, fully lie-flat beds in Business Class, and state-of-the-art, individual in-flight entertainment on every seat-back. Interior wallpaper also features subtle images of Australian icons.

The inaugural flight guests include Sir Richard Branson, chief executive officer of Virgin Group; Virgin Blue Chief Executive Officer Brett Godfrey; and Australian celebrities including singer Marcia Hines, television presenter Catriona Rowntree, and rock band The Potbelleez.

V Australia flights are expected to generate an annual impact of up to $872 million to the Southern California economy, and sustain as many as 4,340 jobs with total wages of $218 million, according to an economic analysis of trans-oceanic flights of wide-body aircraft at LAX by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

The launch of V Australia allows passengers to book travel on individual Virgin-branded airlines on an around-the-world routing on V Australia, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Blue and Virgin Nigeria.

Virgin Group CEO Sir Richard Branson said, "This is a unique moment in Virgin's history and we, as a global airline group of airlines, are very excited to be able to provide travellers with the option of flying all around the world using Virgin airlines that all represent the same value for money, fun and commitment to service and innovation."

DATE:          Friday, February 27, 2009

TIME:          9 a.m. - Interested media meet LAX PR Division escort to go
               onto airfield to get close-up visuals of aircraft landing
               and fire-truck water-cannon welcome salute

               10 a.m. - Flight lands; while taxiing to gate, aircraft
               passes under arch of water-cannon salute

               10:45 a.m. - Remarks (begins as soon as speakers and guests
               complete immigration and customs processing)

WHERE:         V Australia check-in lobby at Terminal 3
               Upper/Departures Level
               Los Angeles International Airport

WHO:           -- Sir Richard Branson, Co-founder of Virgin Blue and
                  Chairman of Virgin Group
               -- Brett Godfrey, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Blue
                  Group
               -- Valeria Velasco, Vice-President of Los Angeles Board of
                  Airport Commissioners
               -- Australian celebrities
               -- V Australia team

VISUALS:       1. First-ever, touch-down at LAX of V Australia's inaugural
                  commercial flight from Sydney, Australia with LAFD water
                  cannon salute/welcome
               2. Principals receiving an L.A.-style welcome
               3. Photo op with principals

MEDIA PARKING: All broadcast-equipped media vehicles displaying valid LAX
               Media Parking Permits may park terminal curbside on the
               Upper/Departures Level roadway between Terminal 3 and Tom
               Bradley International Terminal.  Vehicles parked curbside
               must be attended at all times.  All other media may park in
               Parking Structure 3.  Parking will be validated at event
               site.

SPECIAL NOTE: RSVP is required for media wanting to go on the airfield to shoot aircraft touch-down and LAFD water cannon salute. Please contact Tom Winfrey at LAX PR Division at (424) 646-5260 or twinfrey@lawa.org by 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26, to arrange escort.

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