Virgin Blue, the Australian low-cost carrier, will migrate to Navitaire's New Skies platform later this year. Virgin Blue has been using Navitaire's Open Skies system since its launch.

The move will provide Virgin Blue with a number of new capabilities and services, such as flexible ancillary service offerings for car rental, travel insurance and other products integrated directly into the booking flows; code-sharing and other interline options; comprehensive day-of-departure passenger services through advanced guest recognition capabilities, and the provision of customer-centric data throughout the entire passenger life cycle;

It also will include New Skies' proprietary Intelligent Seating capabilities, which allow passengers more control over their seating choices. Virgin Blue had been slated to be one of the launch customers for IBS Software Services' next-generation reservations system, aiRES.

But in early 2007, Brett Godfrey, Virgin Blue's chief executive officer, startled the aviation community during a press conference on company earnings by blurting--uncharacteristically--that "we have written off $9 million spent on a new reservations system that may never see the light of day." Both Godfrey and Virgin Blue then clammed up on the topic for the next two years.

Meanwhile, WestJet, the other erstwhile launch customer for aiRES, has opted for the SabreSonic system and expects to complete its migration by the end of the year.

Navitaire said that 26 carriers have gone live on New Skies, including Monarch, Jetstar, Jetstar Asia and Jetstar Pacific, which converted from Open Skies.

French rail company iDTGV, a wholly owned subsidiary of SNCF, also converted from Open Skies to New Skies, incorporating several enhancements specifically tailored to the rail industry.

Jazeera Airways, a Kuwaiti carrier, plans to upgrade to New Skies by the end of the year. Azul, the Brazilian carrier launched by JetBlue founder David Neeleman, and Eastar Jet, a Korean budget carrier, launched service with New Skies. Moscow-based Avianova plans to launch service next month with New Skies.