Virgin Australia’s Air New Zealand partnership set for take off

Velocity points, status credits and lounge access are back on the table for AU-NZ flights.

By David Flynn, June 6 2024
Virgin Australia’s Air New Zealand partnership set for take off

Former partners Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand are officially back together – unlocking more seamless travel while boosting the appeal of Virgin’s Velocity frequent flyer program.

Under the rebooted trans-Tasman alliance, passengers will earn Velocity points and status credits on AirNZ flights sporting a VA flight number between Australia and New Zealand, as well as use Velocity points to book those Air New Zealand flights.

Though tenatively approved last month, the proposal for “a unilateral trans-Tasman codeshare agreement” has now been rubber stamped by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), on a five-year basis.

A spokesperson for Virgin Australia says: “We are thrilled with today’s announcement by the ACCC granting us authorisation of our partnership with Air New Zealand,” describing it as a positive step in its efforts to provide “more value and choice to passengers flying across the Tasman.”

Despite receiving the go ahead from the ACCC though, the airline notes it is still awaiting a decision by the New Zealand Ministry of Transport to finalise the partnership, with a proposed start date yet to be revealed.

In the meantime, ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh says the competition watchdog is satisfied that the pairing will provide “more ticketing and price options on trans-Tasman routes”.

“Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand will also be able to jointly offer discounts and a range of marketing options to businesses, and eligible Virgin Australia customers will have access to Velocity Frequent Flyer program benefits and international lounge access,” Keogh adds.

That means, Velocity Golds and Platinums, along with members of the invite-only Beyond program, will enjoy access to the Kiwi carrier’s lounges when travelling on VA-coded Air New Zealand flights.

The decision will also help fill the holes in Virgin Australia’s NZ network since Virgin abandoned all flights to Aotearoa, except for the popular tourist magnet of Queenstown, to focus on its core domestic services.

However, the ACCC notes this new arrangement does not apply “to routes where Virgin Australia is currently, or decides to start, operating its own services in competition with Air New Zealand,” which at the time of writing are limited to Virgin’s 737 flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Queenstown.

Executive Traveller understands the Qantas-Air New Zealand domestic partnership will not be impacted by this trans-Tasman agreement between Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand.

Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand enjoyed a long and deep partnership until October  2018, when the Kiwi carrier pulled out of the alliance over disagreement with Virgin Australia’s direction under then-CEO John Borghetti.

Qantas unexpectedly swooped in to ink a new alliance with the Star Alliance member, although this was restricted to a codeshare on domestic flights within Australia and New Zealand, rather than flights between the two countries.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 965

About time!!!

How about onward international travel via NZ? 😉😉😉

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 323

Onward travel from NZ to mainland US/Canada is unlikely to occur for the foreseeable future when VA has UA and AC from mainland Australia.  There may be potential for Pacific Islands and HNL from NZ however through NZ.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 965

I can always hope for onward travel, that way we have several options 😉

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jun 2020

Total posts 15

I flew Air NZ to US this year and loved it. Only added a couple of hours each way but a lot cheaper than United. Delta were much better though as a partner than United. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 711

Good call, adding HNL and PPT (in ANZ metal) to the Virgin booking portal would certainly get patronage.  

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 965

I can’t see the VA - Hawaiian deal staying with Alaskan taking over.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 711

Good call, being able to fly from AUS in ANZ metal to PPT and HNL via Virgin code share using points would be great.  

19 Feb 2024

Total posts 2

AC? You’re joking. Still waiting for the reciprocal benefits there.. currently it’s effectively no partnership

09 Feb 2021

Total posts 11

Finally!  The Air NZ alliance was the best thing about Velocity prior to 2018.  Good to see it (partly) restored.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 464

Will this apply for ADL-AKL services both ways.I am Singapore Airlines frequent flyers as well plus Thai but have no real use for either of those on Air NZ if the velocity option is there.

Any details re being able to use Airpoints to book VA flights?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 323

Unlikely you'd be able to use NZ Airpoints for VA for the short term future.  Submission states it's a one way (unilateral) agreement where VA buys seats (and lounge access for eligible J customers) and resells the NZ seats (and J lounge access) them to VA customers as a reseller.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 965

VA having Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada, United and ANA as partners surely Star Alliance can let them in as a De Facto Partner and also include Airlines such as Turkish to the fold.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 323

Star Alliance Connecting Partners is the cheaper option for Virgin.  Costs little money and it's basically affiliate level.

Applying for full membership costs money, which Private Equity doesn't see it as valuable to "bump the value" for their IPO.   If Bain thought it was valuable, they would've applied by now.

If Qatar gets a stake, then that brings a different situation all-together.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 965

I agree but it's starting to look like Qatar has pulled the plug on VA, Singapore adding flights and putting an A350 into Cairns is also interesting.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 711

The sooner VA gets a formal affiliation with Turkish Airlines - the better, as it'll create some competitive tension with Singapore.  Once Turkish unleashes the A350-1000 ULRs in 2026, it'll be no-stop AUS to Istanbul, and from there to anywhere in Europe/UK.  Whether a direct bilateral partnership with TA or an Affiliate/'Connecting Partner' via Star Alliance, I'm indifferent.  

IMHO, Qatar has yet to demonstrate being a 'value partner' to VA flyers (compared to Singapore Airlines).    I live in hope of that changing, but not holding my breath.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 323

TK seems to have quietened down on whether to affiliate with ZL or VA.  The last article a few months ago TK were talking to ZL (assumedly due to VA's QR and SQ partnerships).

QFF

19 Sep 2013

Total posts 203

Originally we could obtain Velocity points by flying and ticketing Air New Zealand. Will this also restart?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 711

Yours is a perfectly valid and simple question, and this seems to answer it, but if I've missed something  . . .

Passengers will be able to earn Velocity points and status credits on AirNZ flights between Australia and New Zealand carrying a VA flight number, and also use their Velocity points to book those Air New Zealand flights.

Virgin Australia - Platinum

21 Mar 2021

Total posts 7

So what does that mean for NZ domestic flights? Will we be able to book multi-stop through VA and use the domestic lounges?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Aug 2015

Total posts 53

Good for Velocity peeps but I've had to roll the dice being gold with them and Qantas and went all in on Qantas so ill stick with the QF ticketed Emirates A380 Business class lounge and flight to CHC.. Cant beat it !

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 711

Johnsy, you shameless bragged !!    :-)

03 Apr 2020

Total posts 4

Let’s hope there are more Velocity rewards seats available on NZ metal this time. Under the old alliance availability was woefully low. Almost non existent.

bmc
bmc

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Aug 2013

Total posts 172

Is this likely to add a VA number to the AirNZ Hobart to Auckland flight?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

28 Aug 2023

Total posts 1

Virgin should bite the bullet and join the Star Alliance network which will add value to Velocity program

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 323

Not with Private Equity owning VA, otherwise they would've applied by now if they though alliance membership would "pump up their value" for the upcoming IPO (whenever that may be).

08 May 2020

Total posts 83

What has taken Virgin this long for an arrangement with NZ. I know there had been a lot of Kiwis with Velocity who had lost their colours. I have also lost interest in travels to NZ as AIR Nz & Jetstar and qantas had it all monopolised these last 2 1/2 years.

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 177

I see this as nothing more than a business decision to improve the book structure of Virgin Australia prior to Bain's upcoming IPO float - resulting with little benefit to VA passengers. 

Look at bigger picture!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Apr 2013

Total posts 42

Any rumours of any rollout dates ?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2540

Hi kpkazzie – it now hinges on approval from the NZ side of the fence (ocean?), once that's forthcoming we'd expect a start date with a relatively short runway to be announced.


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