Virgin Australia is throwing down the gauntlet in its bid to lock away a sizeable share of the domestic business travel market, with entry-level benchmark fares slashed to $299 for flights on the country’s busiest routes – and the bold move will also give Velocity members their quickest path to top-tier status yet.
Joining reduced rates on the ‘triangle’ between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, a slew of other leads-ins will now be reset to $309 for the likes of Sydney and Adelaide to Hobart, Brisbane to Adelaide, and Brisbane and the Gold Coast to Cairns.
The airline says its cut-price business class baseline is now ”up to 60%” cheaper “when compared to pre-Covid levels.”
“By way of example, a Virgin Australia business class flight from Melbourne to Sydney available on 31 March 2022 is $580 cheaper compared to the same flight in the same class available on 19 November 2019,” the airline cites.
It’s a bold but no doubt spreadsheet-approved move as Virgin carves out its uniquely mid-market position, undercutting Qantas as the premium carrier with an unabashedly premium price tag, while also soaring above new challenger Rex.
Pathway to Platinum
A knock-on effect of the reduced business class fares is that Virgin’s Velocity frequent flyers can achieve Platinum status – the highest non-invitation tier of the airline’s& loyalty program – for less than ever.
Virgin’s current 45% bonus status credit offer, which has been extended for travel until June 30, makes that even quicker and more affordable for members to unlock top-tier Platinum benefits – as long as they complete the necessary flying by the end of June.
Darting between Sydney and Melbourne or Sydney and Brisbane, for example, you’d need only seven return flights – normally 110 credits per trip, but now upped to 158 – to earn the necessary 1000 credits if you started from scratch (in fact, you'd tip into Platinum before stepping onto your very last flight), for a total travel cost of $3887.
Of course, if you’re already partway up the status ladder – such as Velocity Silver or Gold – that 1000 status credits target will take far fewer flights.
Even when the promo ends though, the newly benchmarked fares still represent incredible value, bringing the lofty heights of Velocity within reach for less than ever before.
Bringing business class pricing back to earth
Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka maintains it’s all part of a plan “to create a more affordable and accessible business class offering” – and one which makes travellers think twice about accepting the high fares they’ve perhaps been long accustomed to.
“Our Business Class airfare pricing is another example of how we have reset our cost base and then invested in creating premium travel experiences at very affordable and competitive prices, which we know our customers love,” Hrdlicka says.
“If you look at the corporate and SME market as an example, many organisations are emerging from the pandemic with a more value conscious orientation and we are confident they are going to find our pricing across Economy, Economy X and Business Class very attractive."
Going above and 'Beyond'
Hrdlicka also confirmed the airline’s “invitation-only premium lounges” – formerly known as The Club but now rebranded to Virgin Beyond – will re-open on 20 April 2022.
Separate to the newly-launched Virgin Australia Business Flyer program, the Beyond tier – which includes invitation-only lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – adopts a more commercial footing as a drawcard for companies with a high travel spend, to help Virgin better compete against Qantas for the business and corporate market.
However, despite indications of greater transparency on just who can enter these ‘secret VIP lounges’, the official entry criteria will not be made public.
Additional reporting by David Flynn