Virgin Australia adds ten Boeing 737s

The bulked-up fleet will put Virgin in a better position to compete against Qantas and also resume flights to New Zealand.

By David Flynn, April 15 2021
Virgin Australia adds ten Boeing 737s

Virgin Australia will bolster its fleet with the addition of ten Boeing 737s over the coming months as the airline eyes an uptick in domestic demand and a restart for of New Zealand flights.

All of the jets have been leased back from previous lessors who supplied the same jets before the airline collapsed into administration in April 2020.

The first three aircraft will rejoin Virgin this month, with the remainder progressively arriving through to October.

Virgin says it will also launch a recruitment drive "to fill more than 150 additional cabin crew roles" in addition to bringing back some 220 cabin crew previously stood down.

"More aircraft means more flying, and with easing travel restrictions, there are more opportunities to further support domestic tourism and the nation’s economic recovery from COVID-19," says Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.

Virgin was a surprising non-starter for the Australia-New Zealand travel bubble, which will see quarantine-free flights take off from Monday April 19, leaving the trans-Tasman market to Qantas and Air New Zealand.

Hrdlicka last month remarked that a return to overseas flying "will be one of the first things we do."

"It will be anywhere where a (Boeing) 737 can fly, so that will include New Zealand, Fiji and Bali."

The airline's current NZ plans will see most services to the Cloudy Isles resume on 31 October 2021.

Virgin's VARA regional arm will also bring its Airbus A320s onto mainline routes such as  Perth-Darwin, Perth-Broome and Perth-Adelaide from next month, to further free up Boeing 737s for other markets.

As Australia gets travelling again, you could earn as many as 120,000 bonus Velocity Points from a single credit card application: read our roundup of the best Virgin Australia Velocity credit card sign-up offers.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 471

Are there many ex-VA 737s still with lease companies?   I noticed an A330 at Perth on the weekend, maybe they would be looked at again if the lease price was right.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1201

There are still a few but VA has deliberately tried to reduce its fleet age so older 737s are not being taken up.  All of the recent additions are newer 737s which include the BSI interior.  REX's 737 fleet is basically made up of older VA 737s.

There is no likelihood of VA being interested in reactivating A330s as it would increase their cost base significantly.  Their next option once they have reactivated their older 737 fleet coming back from lessors, most at reduced charges compared with what was paid pre-administration, is to look for other 738s in the market.  These would need to be repainted and refitted but a lessor keen to get parked planes active again will often contribute to these type of costs.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 371

As a very loyal QF customer, I am extremely pleased with this news.

Most importantly, it gives people who have had their jobs and lives turned upside down in March 2020 through no fault of their own, a level of certainty that life is slowly getting back to a 2019 level of normal on the travel front.

It will also keep competition strong, which we as consumers will all benefit from. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 662

" ... but a lessor keen to get parked planes active again will often contribute to these type of costs."  You're so right-on-the-money there my friend.  

The moment those planes were returned by Virgin, the 'Asset Impairment' accounting standard (IAS36/AASB136) would have compelled the Lessor to (financially) write-down the carrying value to $Nil, and that's a hit to the bottom line (i.e. an expense).  That's agiven or the auditors would 'qualify' their report (creating other statutory problems.)  Plus there's then the considerable added cost to the Lessor or parking and maintaining the planes (as has been covered elsewhere on this site, I think in respect of Qantas?).  

Re-leasing would allow the Lessor's (at its own option) for a reversal of that write-off charge (increasing profit) and stop the cost of parking and maintenance.  This would be one of those rare occasions where Virgin could 'name their own price' provided it was (just) remotely reasonable in the current climate.  Let's hope Bain had a sharper pencil than Borghetti.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 251

Surprised to see article in mainstream news about Virgin starting intl flights and that Aussies should get ready to go to Bali.. what a false statement to make it could be another year+ until Bali opens up to Aussies but even I think that's hopeful. As for long haul their intention to USA and Japan stands committed..

Ms Hrdlicka said Virgin was focused on increasing domestic travel capacity while issues with the bubble were ironed out.

“For New Zealand we have committed to and started to schedule flights for September,” she told ABC RN.B

"But short-haul international, which includes the Pacific Islands and Bali, that is as … soon as the borders open.

“Then long-haul international, we are really looking forward to restarting that with a principal focus on Japan and the USA.”

Speaking with a couple loyalist VA customers today, sounds like she missed the ball with the bat. As I said previously 4 months and I will have VA Platinum, so what will they do to entice 12 months of flying with VA?

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1201

I'm a bit confused by your post.  You are obviously already flying with VA because you say you will be Platinum in 4 months unless you meant to say you are losing Platinum in 4 months.  What would you like her to offer?  She's pretty powerless to give you much on the int'l front with closed borders and, with her weather eye always on managing costs,  there is no likelihood of going down a separate Business Class Lounge path.


Myself like a couple of friends can easily clock up 2000 - 3000 status credits with VA in a single year, 800 status credits get Platinum with 4 free upgrades into business, 1800 status credits gets you a gifted Platinum you can give to anyone else. Every single person I've spoken to who I know that make more than 800 - 1800 status credits think they should move over to Qantas after they hit the 800 - 1800 status credit mark. What people are thinking is once they hit the 1800 status mark they should also get entry into a business lounge or VIP lounge and have the life time option as well. 


21 Jul 2011

Total posts 91

Just sounds like you backed the wrong horse and you’re regretting it. Just be happy VA exists at all and your points aren’t lost forever (remember Ansett) 

The difference is I'm backing both horses not one, and asking both what is in it for me being the consumer. As far as points go I pulled all my points from VA 6 hours before they cancelled transfers to Singapore Airlines and luck had nothing to do with it.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 462

it's better than nothing.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 662

So let me get this right (and I hope other readers were shown more respect than I was).  MORE THAN 27 hours after Ms Jayne releases this good news story to her pals in the media, complete with photo stock of herself - presumably to promote the airline (cough cough) - as a VA Platinum member only now (11:30 am the next day) do I get an email (Virgin Accelerate branded) announcing the good news?  

Was there no-one at VA-HQ with just a skerrick of nouse that thought, perhaps, out of respect for the longsuffering loyal customers, we should have received this email yesterday morning, preferably within an hour of the news breaking (AFR loaded the news at 7:53am yesterday)?  Surely the email could have been programmed for 'broadcast' ay, say, 0900, or 10:00am or 11:00am, or even 11:59am, just to show we weren't being taken for granted.  

For the love of frequent flying, please, any-one, tell me if you received your email yesterday morning.  I hope I'm merely at the end of a long list and that the disrespect is limited to me and not all VFF members?


I was amazed a mate said to me you watch the moment they realise there only got 20% marketshare they will go all out trying to crawl back the lost customers, they will throw everything at it. Than 2 hours later the media spin hit lol, did my mate know something???? I'm sure Murphy is thinking who can he bring in to fly the flag, John Thomas, Geoff Dixon or John Borghetti. 

18 Jan 2017

Total posts 51

Reading on another forum that Virgin are still looking at offloading VARA, which  is why I thought they put the B737 onto some VARA routes from Perth such as Broome and Kununurra. So, obviously they can’t offload VARA if they are going to use the A320 VARA fleet for some routes nor does moving the A320’s into the mainline fit into the fleet strategy. 

I have business class flights between Perth and Broome coming up later in the year. With the removal of business class, interested on what they will offer as an alternative. 

I thought the same thing, none of it makes sense, say one thing do another.

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