Australia: Virgin Blue FFP On Its Way

Australia: Virgin Blue FFP On Its Way

Virgin Blue’s much anticipated frequent flyer program is on track for a year-end announcement after it advertised in September for two loyalty program managers, according to Steve Creedy of The Australian.

In the first concrete sign the program is on its way, the airline is seeking a partnership manager and a marketing manager. It said the partnership manager would identify, negotiate and grow commercial relationships “as the cornerstone of this significant initiative.” The marketing manager would target market segments and develop a “significant” membership base.

The advertisement is the first public sign that the program is on its way. Virgin put the frequent flyer program back on the front burner earlier this year as part of a strategy aimed at capturing more high-yielding passengers.

Chief executive Brett Godfrey said in July that the program was at the forefront of the management’s thinking and he expected to be able to release details by the end of the year.

A Virgin spokeswoman told The Australian that the timetable was still on track.

Despite the takeover battle raging between majority owner Patrick Corp and Toll Holdings, the airline is continuing to roll out initiatives aimed at capturing more business, government and corporate flying. Most recently, it adapted its Open Skies reservations system to allow travel agents and key corporate accounts to book directly into it using an Application Program Interface.

Virgin has signed up 40 travel agencies — as well as major corporations, government agencies and third-party Internet sites such as Zuji, travel.com.au and lastminute.com.au — to use the new system.

It is also looking at upgrading airport lounges, refinements to its Web site to allow customers to check-in from home, enhancing on-time performance and expanding self-service check-ins to reduce waiting times.

Details of the airline’s frequent flyer program are still under wraps, but it is understood to have identified the plan it wants to adopt.

Godfrey said in July any such system would have to prove to be an industry “game changer.”

“It’s got to be what I’d call a category killer,” he told The Australian. “It’s got to be something that really means something to people.”

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