BRISBANE, Australia -- Virgin Blue airlines announced a host of new
programs designed to enhance its relationship with U.S. travel
The airline signed a deal with Sabre to provide travel agents
net fares, a move which gives agents a second avenue to book the
airline and get paid for it.
"Agents who want to do large volumes on a commissionable basis
can still work with us on the Internet, but if they want to work
with us on the GDSs, they can do it on a net basis," said David
Huttner, head of commercial operations for the airline.
"We do pay commission to agents -- 6% with no caps -- on our Web
site, at www.virginblue.com.au/agents, so it's the agents'
choice if they want to use the Internet or the GDS. We're not
encouraging them to do it one way or the other.
"A lot of U.S. agents will probably like to work with Sabre and
do net fares and service fees," he added. Huttner said Virgin Blue
wants to start focusing on the North American market, which is the
key reason it signed the deal with Sabre.
In other news, the airline signed a deal with United Airlines to
code share flights from Sydney to Brisbane. The deal, using
United's code, could be expanded to other routes in the near
future, said Huttner.
Also, the carrier is planning to launch a wholesale division to
reward those who book large groups. The airline offers agents
booking groups of 10 to 20 passengers a group net rate, said
"With us likely to fly to New Zealand in the next year, we're
getting a lot of attention in that regard," he said.
Huttner said the airline only has about 20 to 30 U.S. agents who
he considers "major bookers," and who use Virgin Blue's agent-only
Web site to book flights.
Virgin Blue serves Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin,
Launceston, Mackay, Melbourne, Mt. Isa, Sydney and Townsville,