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Virgin Blue Appoint Goldman Sachs To Assess Strategic Funding Opportunities


Virgin Blue Airlines Pty Ltd. ("Virgin Blue") today announced that it has appointed Goldman Sachs to consider various strategic funding opportunities for the Virgin Blue business in Australia.

Virgin is exploring alternatives that include inviting private equity investors to acquire a cornerstone shareholding to help it take advantage of significant opportunities brought about by recent events in the Australian airline industry.

These funding options are being considered as a preliminary step towards a potential IPO in 2002. The company's eventual IPO will be managed by Goldman Sachs and J.B. Were.

Virgin Blue's continued strategic objective is to grow into a national carrier while maintaining its position as one of the lowest cost operators of air travel in the world.

The airline believes additional funding will allow it to accelerate the rollout of its services in Australia while continuing to provide its customers with friendly, on-time performance utilising the most modern fleet of aircraft available at considerably lower cost than its competitors.

Virgin Blue Chief Executive Officer, Brett Godfrey said, "As we announced in May, Virgin Blue believes an opportunity exists to share our success with the Australian public. However in light of the exceptional events taking place in the industry, we are looking at all possibilities that allow us to accelerate our growth plan ahead of our already aggressive targets."

He continued, "Prior to the fall of Ansett, we carried approximately 7% of domestic traffic, but we averaged near 20% market share on the routes we flew and were already profitable in the traditionally tougher first half. Even with our planned expansion, we believe we are on track to achieve significantly stronger results in the second half to 31 March 2002. Our growth objectives were being met prior to the collapse of Ansett. Recent events have only enhanced our prospects and we are confident that investors will recognise that we are the strongest prospect for them in the growing Australian aviation market."

Virgin Blue confirmed that they are presently making arrangements to take additional aircraft in 2001 aside from the three planned deliveries from Boeing, allowing them to make further announcements regarding increased capacity and new routes during the month of October.

The carrier also confirmed that it would not stray from its dual commitments of having Australia's most modern fleet of aircraft while continuing in its role to be the people's low-fare champion.