Virgin Galactic resumes ticket sales but delays start of commercial service

Young journalists club

News ID: 52545
Publish Date: 11:39 - 07 August 2021
Saturday, 7 August 2021 (YJC)_Virgin Galactic announced Aug. 5 it is restarting ticket sales at significantly higher prices but won’t begin flying its existing suborbital space tourism customers until the second half of next year.

Virgin Galactic resumes ticket sales but delays start of commercial serviceAs part of its quarterly financial results, the company said it was immediately starting ticket sales, which had been suspended for several years. Those who signed up to the company’s “One Small Step” program, paying a $1,000 deposit, will have the first opportunity to buy seats on future suborbital spaceflights.

The announcement was not unexpected since company officials previously said they would resume ticket sales once the company’s founder, Richard Branson, flew to space on SpaceShipTwo. Branson was on SpaceShipTwo’s latest flight July 11 from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

What was new was the price: starting at $450,000, far above the $250,000 the company had been charging before suspending ticket sales. The company will offer individual seats, multiple seats on the same flight and entire flights. “$450,000 is the beginning price,” Michael Colglazier, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said in an earnings call. “If someone wants to purchase a full flight, and buy out all the seats on the flight, there will be a modest premium that goes against that.”

Colglazier suggested that ticket sales will be open for a limited time as the company attempts to control the demand for seats versus the supply of flights. He said only that the company expected to sell a “meaningful” number of seats but did not offer a more quantitative estimate.

Virgin Galactic has pushed back when both existing and new customers will start flying. Earlier this year, it anticipated beginning commercial service in early 2022 once both its current SpaceShipTwo vehicle, VSS Unity, and its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, VMS Eve, complete a maintenance period scheduled to start in the fall.

That maintenance period will begin immediately after the next SpaceShipTwo flight, scheduled for late September under a contract with the Italian Air Force. However, that maintenance period will last several months longer than previously expected.

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