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Virgin Blue Set for Take-Off to Los Angeles

Virgin Blue International Airlines will launch non-stop service between Australia and Los Angeles later this year under a new open-skies agreement, continuing a trend among international carriers that are choosing Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as their West Coast gateway and adding to the billions of dollars in economic activity generated in Southern California by overseas flights. Virgin Blue Airlines, through its long-haul international carrier, V Australia, will use the first of its 10 weekly allotments to launch non-stop service from Australia to Los Angeles in December, operating between Sydney and LAX.

V Australia is the ninth air carrier to begin or announce new international service to LAX in the past year, continuing a trend toward increased international air travel at LAX, which had consistently lost market share since 2000, and solidifying LAX's position as the leading Asia Pacific gateway in the U.S.

In total, the nine carriers are adding 126 arrivals and departures per week at LAX, with an estimated annual economic impact of more than $5.6 billion. Overall, the new service will sustain 28,000 jobs paying cumulative wages of $1.4 billion.

Other new or recently announced international service at LAX includes:

• Air France - seven round-trips per week to London, which began March 30 under the recent open-skies agreement between the U.S. and European Union;
• Alitalia - five round-trips per week to Rome beginning in June;
• British Airways - seven additional round-trips per week to London, which began in April 2007;
•  Emirates Airline - seven round-trips per week to Dubai beginning Sept. 1;
• EVA Air - three additional round-trips per week to Taipei via Osaka  which began March 30;
• Korean Air - three round-trips per week to São Paulo, Brazil, beginning June 2;
• United Airlines - seven round-trips per week to Frankfurt, which began last December;
• United Airlines - seven round-trips per week to Hong Kong, which began last October;
• Air China- seven additional round-trips per week to Beijing beginning in Summer 2009.