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Virgin Blue responds to Australasian Business Travel Association criticism

Search ASIA Travel Tips .com 12 August 2003

Recently the Australasian Business Travel Association issued a press release attacking the government freeze on airline agreements claiming the government is interfering in the process. Virgin Blue has stated that the press release seems to go against the views of the majority of the constituency ABTA claims to represent and ignores the current trends in air travel procurement policy of Best Fare of the Day.

Virgin Blue's Global Sales Manager, Jon Marshall said, "Virgin Blue believes that ABTA has misrepresented us, our fares, our product and what is happening in the industry today. Its views are in direct conflict with the 26% of our business traffic that comes from Australia's Top 500 companies. These companies clearly understand that our policies are competitive with Qantas".

"Virgin Blue questions why ABTA would be bothered if the government froze its contracting process? As the majority of ABTA's members are private sector purchasers and travel management suppliers, they would clearly be ambivalent on this one - what would it matter to them how government makes its travel purchases? We understand that perhaps a few disgruntled government Purchasing Officers may have objected to the freeze, but we can't imagine their views would have any relevance to ABTA's aims."

Virgin Blue said that the ABTA press release calls into question the integrity of the numerous travel industry purchasing professionals as well as the abilities of professional travel managers, by implying that Qantas, via Qantas Business Travel, is the most capable party to manage and provide reporting on how to spend other people's money when it comes to airline seats.

Independent Travel managers have informed Virgin Blue that they are more than happy to see the recent decline of QBT in non-government tenders.

"We can only assume it is Qantas' support of ABTA that has brought about its' press release? The Olympic Stadium is now called the Telstra Stadium after its major sponsor, perhaps ABTA may like to consider its own name change".

He continued, "Virgin Blue is concerned that the investment made in ABTA thus far, has not overcome the organisation's inherent bias. Virgin Blue now feels it must question any future support of ABTA events, which may, unfortunately, make ABTA more dependent than ever on Qantas. However we must seek other forums where we believe all views are heard and a few powerful interests do not outweigh the needs of the majority."

Virgin Blue stated that it unequivocally supports the view that best-practice business-travel management should set the standard for government policy. The airline said it firmly believes it is the responsibility of any government "to interfere" when an official endorses an outmoded, biased and inflexible purchasing system. It is a core government responsibility to be accountable for the taxpayer's dollar.

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