Virgin Australia A330. Courtesy, DJ

Virgin Australia (DJ) will deploy Airbus A330s on the Melbourne (MEL)-Perth (PER) route to tap the resources boom in Western Australia and attempt to capture more of the business market from Qantas (QF). According to the airline, the move will add 20,000 seats a year.

In a significant ramp-up in the intensifying competition between the two airlines, DJ will take delivery from Airbus of two new 278-seat A330s in May and put them into service on the MEL-PER route from May 14. The A330s will replace 168-seat Boeing 737s.

Last year, DJ deployed its first two A330s on the Sydney (SYD)-PER route, which heralded the roll-out of the airline’s new up-market image and introduction of business class (ATW Daily News, May 4, 2011).

DJ CEO John Borghetti is aiming to see 20% of the airline’s revenue come from Australia’s corporate and government market by June 2013.

As of June 2011 that figure stood at 13%, up one-third over the prior year; however, insiders suggest the number is now closer to 15% after QF’s recent industrial woes. For the past 10 years, QF has faced no business class competition since the collapse of Ansett.