October 2, 2008 / 5:04 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 2-Virgin Blue: Boeing strike delays service launch

(Adds comment from Virgin in paragraph 2)

SYDNEY, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd VBA.AX, Australia's second-biggest airline, said on Thursday it had delayed the launch of its new long-haul service V Australia by over two months due to a strike at aircraft maker Boeing (BA.N). Virgin, whose shares have been battered due to high fuel prices along with other airlines, said it will be offering alternative travel arrangements to all affected clients.

"Boeing advised its customers, including V Australia, that it cannot predict the duration of the dispute and therefore cannot guarantee the delivery date of the airline's launch aircraft," Virgin Blue said in a statement.

The airline said the revised launch date for V Australia, which will provide flights to the United States, was Feb. 28, 2009.

Virgin shares were up 1.4 percent at A$0.37 in a flat overall market . The stock is down about 82 percent in 2008, compared with a 24 percent fall in the benchmark index.

Virgin had planned daily flights between Sydney and Los Angeles from December after Australia and the United States opened up trans-Pacific air routes between the two countries in February.

V Australia will become the second Australian airline after Qantas Airways Ltd (QAN.AX) to fly the route. (Reporting by James Thornhill and Denny Thomas)

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