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Branson: Open Letter To Geoff Dixon  
User currently offlineWirraway From Australia, joined Mar 2001, 1321 posts, RR: 1
Posted (12 years 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 5085 times:



Dear Geoff,

I was amused to read Qantas’s completely dismissive comments about Virgin Atlantic’s chances of getting permission to fly to Australia. It would be prudent for you to remind yourself of your and James Strong’s equally dismissive comments about Virgin Blue’s chances of entering the Australian market only three years ago.

Here goes! This is the gist of what you said:

“Virgin Blue is a lot of media hype.”
“This market is not big enough to sustain Virgin Blue.”
“Virgin Blue doesn’t have deep enough pockets to cope.”
“Qantas will employ any option to see off this interloper.”
“They’ll be unlikely to survive a year.”
“Claims by Richard Branson that domestic fares are high are a misnomer!”(my exclamation mark)

Here is what James Strong, your former C.E.O, said about Virgin Blue and myself:

“If you listen to most of the pretenders there is a distinct air that they are making it up as they go along. In terms of real plans and real commitment you could fire a shot gun up the main street and not hit anybody.”

Yet three years later you are telling your staff that this same airline, “that was making it up as it went along” and that now has 30% of the market could, “Drive Qantas out of business!” We also find it flattering, if a little silly, that three years on you now have spies hiding behind pot plants in the Virgin terminal trying to work out why we are so successful.

Even if some of your comments don’t suggest it, your actions indicate you are taking us seriously. But let’s not take ourselves too seriously. I would like to propose a friendly challenge!

If Virgin Atlantic fails to fly to Australia (within 18 months, say) I’d be prepared to suffer the indignity of donning one of your stewardesses brand new designer outfits and will work your flight from London to Australia serving your customers throughout.

However, if Virgin Atlantic does fly to Australia you would do so instead. On our inaugural flight from London to Australia you would wear one of our beautiful red Virgin Stewardesses uniforms and serve our inaugural guests all the way to Australia. Oh and in case you were wondering, we’re not hung up on flying through Hong Kong. You might end up doing your days work experience through Singapore, Thailand or Malaysia instead.

This is the challenge. If you believe in what Qantas said to the press there can’t be any risk for you. We expect your response within one week. Our inaugural flights are great fun and I look forward to welcoming you on board personally. Oh and by the way my preferred drink is ………..!

30 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineMSYtristar From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (12 years 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 4980 times:

What can you say, the man has charisma, an attribute that can be found in all great leaders both good and bad alike.

I like Branson personally. It's always refreshing to see someone who does not mind speaking his/her mind even if it may raise some eyebrows in the process.

Virgin Atlantic will fly to Australia and will most likely be very successful. I hope Geoff Dixon finds some nice shoes to match his red uniform.

Steve in N.O

User currently offlineBd1959 From Australia, joined Oct 2002, 450 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (12 years 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 4921 times:

Two things:

1) The original story quoted as saying Australia by the end of December, why are we now out to 18months?

2) Geoff Dixon in a Virgin Stewardess uniform??? Please, spare us - they'd have to get one especially made. In fact Sir Richard - if you're reading this - I'd pay good money (ie an inaugural fare) not to see it.

PS I don't mind a bit of fun either!!

User currently offlineWirraway From Australia, joined Mar 2001, 1321 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (12 years 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 4850 times:


Air of suspicion hangs over Qantas's research tactics
July 24 2003

Keep your eyes peeled for any suspicious-looking characters lurking behind plant pots at the airport - they could be market researchers, according to Virgin Blue.

The budget airline has accused its rival Qantas of spooking staff and passengers with covert research tactics.

The airline claimed yesterday that several people had been acting suspiciously around Virgin Blue facilities over the past few years, and had been found, after police interviews, to be market researchers for Qantas.

A spokesman for Virgin Blue, David Huttner, said that lurking around terminals and "standing behind pot plants" only fuelled public fear of flying.

"In a post-Bali and post-September11 environment we think there is a better way to do your market research that doesn't make people nervous," he said.

Earlier this week a man was questioned by security staff and Australian Federal Police (AFP) at Sydney Airport after he was allegedly found in Virgin's freight shed.

The man claimed he was with the Department of Transport and the Sydney Airports Corporation, but Mr Huttner said he was later found to be one of several people employed by a market research firm acting for Qantas.

"The AFP keep taking these people in," Mr Huttner said at a tourism conference on the Sunshine Coast.

"No one's been charged by them and they have not done anything criminal.

"It's not dirty tricks but in these times they should have better ways of doing market research than trying to spook staff and passengers."

A spokeswoman for Qantas denied the man was found in Virgin's freight shed.

"Like all good companies, including Virgin Blue, Qantas contracts external companies to undertake market research," she said. "On this occasion the research was undertaken in a public area by an accredited researcher."

Mr Huttner said Virgin Blue also researched its competition but had never raised the attention of airport security officials or police.


User currently offlineMarara From Australia, joined Oct 2001, 680 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (12 years 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 4778 times:

Hmm didnt mention the 21 competitors on the UK-AU route.

I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. Jerome K Jerome
User currently offlineGoAround From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2003, 616 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (12 years 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 4564 times:

Boy, this guys good at marketing!

I think that'll shut up Qantas for a while. Excellently entertaining!


User currently offlineCaetravlr From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 914 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (12 years 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 4474 times:

That was a great letter by Sir Richard. I loved it. I am sure that the Qantas guy will decline to take the bet, which will only strengthen Virgin's position and bring them more publicity. Virgin can't lose with publicity like that.

Still trying to get back up off the floor after laughing so hard!

A woman drove me to drink and I didn't have the decency to thank her. - W.C. Fields
User currently offlineCX747 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 4491 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (12 years 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 4411 times:

Richard is definately a good CEO! Talk about taking the wind out of Qantas's sails!

"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
User currently offlineTsv From Australia, joined Nov 1999, 1641 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (12 years 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 4388 times:

Dixon's response on the news tonight certainly put Branson in his place with an accurate description of the V*r*in Blue operation :

"We are running an airline not a circus."

"I told you I was ill ..." Spike Milligan
User currently offlineCiro From Brazil, joined Aug 1999, 662 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (12 years 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 4376 times:

I believe the airline business is Branson's less profitable activity, but surely, there's where he gets the fun!

Besides, this guy is so clever that he makes great publicity at no cost at all!

Is there any other partially-owned BA business for him to bug at?  Smile

The fastest way to become a millionaire in the airline business is to start as a billionaire.
User currently offlineDelta777-XXX From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1017 posts, RR: 7
Reply 10, posted (12 years 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 4366 times:

Wow, that Branson is quite the character. He seems like someone that would have come from these forums.  Big grin

User currently offlineBeno From Australia, joined Aug 2002, 428 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (12 years 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 4376 times:

This was the press release QF issued a week ago which states the FACTS about the airline operations between Aust and the UK.

Qantas Welcomes Virgin Atlantic as 21st Carrier Between the United Kingdom and Australia
SYDNEY, 17 July 2003

Qantas today welcomed the announcement from Sir Richard Branson that Virgin Atlantic would become the 21st airline to offer services between the United Kingdom and Australia.

The Chief Financial Officer of Qantas, Peter Gregg, said Sir Richard and some others seemed to be under the impression that Virgin Atlantic would only be competing against British Airways, Qantas and Lauda Air.

"In fact, they will also be competing against another 17 airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, Emirates, Japan Airlines, United Airlines, Air New Zealand and, of course, Singapore Airlines which owns 49 per cent of Virgin Atlantic.

"Qantas competes with all these airlines on a daily basis."

Mr Gregg said he would be very interested if Virgin Atlantic managed to obtain rights to fly to Australia via Hong Kong because, despite trying for many years, Qantas had been unable to obtain the rights to fly between the United Kingdom and Australia via Hong Kong.

Mr Gregg also noted that Sir Richard was reported as saying that British Airways and Qantas owned shares in each other.

"This is also incorrect. While British Airways owns 18.75 per cent of Qantas, Qantas owns no shares in British Airways."

Too me this press release does not attack Virgin it just states the Facts something Branson should do more of.

User currently offlineBeno From Australia, joined Aug 2002, 428 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (12 years 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 4342 times:

Branson said 2 weeks ago Virgin Atlantic would be flying to OZ by December this year, then last week he said in 6 months, now in this letter he has stated 18 MONTHS.

What going on he seems to be giving him self more and more time.

That doesnt show to much confidence.

User currently offlineDoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (12 years 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 4299 times:

Oh come on guys, who cares, it's funny....some of the qantas-lovers should calm down a bit.....if qantas are so great, then they'll thrash Virgin, right?

User currently offlineLj From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4637 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (12 years 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 4232 times:

This was the press release QF issued a week ago which states the FACTS about the airline operations between Aust and the UK.

This is proabably why Virgin wins the publicity battle with Qantas. Nobody is interested in dull facts. Virgin doesn't publishes dull facts and that's why they get all the attention

User currently offlineFloris From Netherlands, joined Jun 2003, 243 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (12 years 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 4113 times:

Furthermore, most of what Qantas calls "facts" is just their opinion. There are only two airlines offering direct flights from the UK to Australia, BA and Qantas. All other 18 carriers require you to change planes, which could result in missing a connection, lost luggage, etc. (As happened to me on SQ quite often while flying from London to Sydney.) Virgin would not be the 21st carrier, but the 3rd, and folks and Qantas are very aware of that. They are probably very, very scared that they will lose their only money-maker.

User currently offlineBeno From Australia, joined Aug 2002, 428 posts, RR: 4
Reply 16, posted (12 years 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4044 times:



I dont think an Airline that is about to announce a $350million profit has only 1 money making route.

I have noticed Virgin Atlantic are all for competition just along as it not on any routes they fly such as the Atlantic etc.

User currently offlineFutureualpilot From United States of America, joined May 2000, 2614 posts, RR: 7
Reply 17, posted (12 years 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4027 times:

Gotta love Branson, yes, I badmouthed his comment about the BA/Concorde remark on an a/c,(mistakenly, I apologize for that) but the guy is genius. I havent laughed that hard for a while!

Life is better when you surf.
User currently offlineElwood64151 From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 2477 posts, RR: 5
Reply 18, posted (12 years 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4034 times:

I think Sir Richard (he was knighted, wasn't he?) is a great guy. I think he knows publicity better than anyone (wasn't Madonna on Virgin's label when he owned it?).

He's one of the "excentric magic millionaires", the guys who, for example, fly balloons around the world, just to get Virgin Groups' name out in the press again. And the best thing about publicity is: It doesn't actually cost anything, except your pride if you lose out (in this case, if Mr. Branson ends up wearing a flight attendant's uniform).

And by throwing the gauntlet down, it forces the other to respond. Mr. Dixon responded in the traditional Conservative Business manner: "This upstart is not worth my time." What he should have done, instead, is to either not respond, or to explain to the world why he thinks what he thinks. Unfortunately for him, neither option is a good one, since the initiative and charisma are all on Mr. Branson's side. Only Herb Kelleher could show up Branson in a situation like this, partly because he's the same kind of charismatic leader, partly because he's so damn successful.

Finally, the men standing behind potted plants at the airport is rather stupid. The fear that instills due to terrorism doesn't hurt just Virgin Blue. It hurts Qantas, too. A much better way of doing market research in that area is to put people on Virgin Blue's planes, and then put them on Qantas' planes, and find out how it's different/better.

That's real market research. Qantas should have hired someone better.

Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
User currently offlineNWAA330 From United States of America, joined Jun 2003, 215 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (12 years 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4001 times:

"...Sir Richard went as far as attaching a picture of how the Qantas chief might look as a Virgin hostie."

Australian Broadcasting Corporation's "Business Breakfast" program Interviewed Branson.
(now that's a picture I'd love to see)  Laugh out loud


To Fly is to Live.
User currently offlineWirraway From Australia, joined Mar 2001, 1321 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (12 years 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3949 times:

Pic of Mr Dixon in VS outfit can be found at bottom of article, click on
thumbnail to enlarge:



User currently offlineQANTAS747 From Australia, joined Mar 2000, 230 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (12 years 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3928 times:

Personally I think Sir Branson is a complete and utter wanker....They way he is making money running is business is excellent Ideas, and very well thought out, but i am still under the view, that he rips the public off, he rips the workers off, and he rips all sorts of companies off. The reason I think he has this "charisma" all of you talk about is because he is (for lack of better words) coming down to the middle-class in society's levels. This isn't a bad thing however, but to me flying is something you have to do with complete professionals. I myself am in the middle clas, and I love a bargain. But not on aircraft, when I fly, I want professional service always with a smile and I wanted to be served complimentary drinks and food. To me, Branson's plan of bringing the air to more middle class and lower class people, is good for competition, and it gives others a chance to fly and such, but they lack the service standards of other full-service airlines with very very good safety practices and a great history. And from what I have heard, of VB's flight attendants with face-painting and other stuff in their aircraft is happening, to me that is dangerous and although it may be alot of fun and such, people get carried away. This is not to say I don't mind having a bit of fun in an aircraft. I am a Qantas lover, I fly with them whenever I can, or their partner airlines. I even fly on the other alliance planes and such because they have good service standards and are a pleasure to fly with. What I try never to do is fly low cost, to me that takes the fun Out of flying.

Withstanding that, I think it is going to be very funny how all of this rattles out. Because Dixon is a country boy from wagga, and he knows whaqt to do in his own mind, and I just think it is hilarious watching Branson talking like he does. Good for competition.

Although I think Qantas will eventually prevail. I figure VB will get up to 38^-40% market share, but QF will keep the rest.


Sorry about the non-flowing of my comments.........:D

User currently offlineWirraway From Australia, joined Mar 2001, 1321 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (12 years 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 3895 times:


Unfortunatly times have changed as can be seen in this mornings "Courier
Mail" and LCC's are here to stay as witnessed in the U.S.A and Europe, time
moves on and you sooner or later you will have to move with it.


New cost cuts for Qantas
Geoff Easdown

QANTAS staff were last night warned to expect a new round of savage cost-cutting to shore up the future of the nation's flag carrier.

The move is almost certain to result in further cutbacks.

They will follow the 1500 redundancies the carrier announced three months ago to overcome the economic crisis confronting world airlines.

Managing director Geoff Dixon said Qantas would trim $1 billion off capital expenditure during 2003-04, and operational costs would be cut by a further $1 billion over the next two years years.

The carrier's 35,000 workers and their unions would have to understand that Qantas had to introduce more efficient work and rostering practices, Mr Dixon said.

Work, presently done in-house, would be contracted out.

More fixed term and casual employees would also find jobs with the airline, he signalled.

Announcing the new measures in Perth, Mr Dixon said: "We either make the changes and make them quickly or face the prospect of shrinking market share and loss of jobs."

And he added: "I do not want to underestimate or trivialise the impact that change will have on our employees, or the challenges that this poses for unions."

Mr Dixon's strong words about how Qantas would operate in the new era of tightened airline budgets were also directed at the Howard Government and the existing restriction on injections of foreign capital.

"The notion that Qantas operates in a competition-free world and will remain unaffected by severe regulatory penalties like limitations on access to foreign equity capital is just plain wrong," said Mr Dixon.

"Similarly, any feeling that Qantas should continue to operate in an inflexible and old-fashioned way, commensurate with its icon status, is misguided and dangerous."

He said that unlike its competitors Qantas did not have access to bankruptcy protection, government ownership shelters or the luxury of no-frills flexible operating arrangements.

Mr Dixon said that "some people think Qantas is impregnable, and will survive no matter what".

"This simply is not true," he said, adding that the airline had to address challenges and ensure it had a sustainable future.

Qantas, like all other international airlines, suffered a severe cutback in passengers because of the war in Iraq and from the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in its prime markets in Asia.

The passenger falloff, down 6.1 per cent in May to 69.8 per cent, is expected to result in a second-half loss when the carrier's annual results emerge next month.

Mr Dixon said it needed to be understood that almost 30 per cent of Qantas's total costs were labour costs.

Qantas shares fell 2 per cent or 7¢ to $3.12 yesterday.

Source: http://www.thecouriermail.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,6806170%255E953,00.html


[Edited 2003-07-25 05:44:06]

User currently offlineLj From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4637 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (12 years 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 3808 times:

I want professional service always with a smile and I wanted to be served complimentary drinks and food. To me, Branson's plan of bringing the air to more middle class and lower class people, is good for competition, and it gives others a chance to fly and such, but they lack the service standards of other full-service airlines with very very good safety practices and a great history. .

Qantas747, may I conclude that you don't think that a) staff at Virgin blue are not professional, b) low cost flying is only for the "middle and lower class". Moreover, we're not talking about Virgin Blue but about Virgin Atlantic (the full service international airline). I don't think QF's service is much better than VS (given the fact I've flown neither, and thus only base my opinion on what I've heard, I can't really co,pare both airlines)

BTW After reading your mail I can't wait to experience the ultimate QF service in a few weeks time (though only for a short hop from SYD to MEL). Must be something special flying QF.

User currently offlineDoorsToManual From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (12 years 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 3784 times:

when I fly, I want professional service always with a smile and I wanted to be served complimentary drinks and food

Out of 5 flights with QF, only one fits that description. Only my experiences mind you, but I couldn't let that go without some reality check....

Have you experienced Virgin Atlantic service? I have, and it makes Qantas's look very poor indeed....sorry, but there you go.

As I said, if the QF service is as good as some of you make it out to be, then they'll relish shoving VS off the route (if and when it appears...).

As for VB, I've also had the chance to fly them in the past, and I can honestly say I don't see what the problem is - the service and flight were absolutely fine. And just to balance things out, I flew the domestic sector of a SYD-BNE-HKG flight on Qantas, and this was the one flight out of the 4 others where the cabin crew were actually warm and pleased to see us - I disembarked thinking 'golly, that was a great flight'.

I have no doubt QF is a professional outfit - but so is Virgin's. Brash advertising does not necessarily imply a poor quality product...especially not in VS's case, I can assure you (though they could do something about that awful seat-pitch).

There's too much airline bias in these forums....

25 Greg : Airlines 'bank' on that bias so you'll choose them. Clearly that's what QF and VS want. Why would a forum be any different? An observation...not a con
26 DoorsToManual : Airlines 'bank' on that bias so you'll choose them Yes, based on genuine experiences!! I notice a lot of people here like to bash airlines they've pro
27 Post contains images QANTAS747 : I will admit, I have never flown Virgin atlantic so I can't compare, and also my views are affected by my likeness of the airline itself.... Maybe bec
28 StefanDotDe : QANTAS747, what would people in GB say, if an airline from another country would fly domestic in GB? They wouldn't be very happy. Germany and Australi
29 DoorsToManual : get a better flight with a safe airline Please expand.
30 Air Taiwan : I've posted this somewhere else, I'll say it again **************** Obviously Virgin has lost the first round of Media "exchange-fire"... Read the fir
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