Virgin Australia plots its return to New Zealand, USA

Despite being an 'all Boeing 737' airline for now, Virgin eyes a comeback to routes further afield, including Los Angeles.

By Chris Chamberlin , September 2 2020
Virgin Australia plots its return to New Zealand, USA

Despite jettisoning its internationally-configured Airbus A330 and Boeing 777 aircraft, Virgin Australia is mapping out its return to overseas flying: particularly to the United States, as well as New Zealand.

Although the airline will run an all-Boeing 737 fleet in the short term, as time progresses and international travel restrictions ease, a new type of aircraft is set to join the Virgin Australia fleet, allowing it to fly from continent to continent.

Speaking at today's CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation Summit, Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah confirmed that “we do intend to go back to the markets we were flying in … and commit to a new widebody fleet.”

Closer to home, “if New Zealand opened up soon, we’d jump at it, because we’ve got aircraft we want to deploy. New Zealand is a part of our future plan, so as soon as we can be back there, the better.”

The airline has been advocating for a ‘travel bubble’ to open up between Australia and New Zealand, although Scurrah believes it won’t be a broad bubble to begin with.

“I think it may be, selectively, market by market, so it might be a city or two to start with: but if we can get it to be a blanket Australian bubble as quickly as possible, it’d be good for everybody.”

International partnerships

With Virgin Australia’s own international network remaining paused for now, partnerships with other airlines will be key to filling the gaps and retaining the appeal of both Virgin Australia and Velocity Frequent Flyer with corporate travellers.

One of Virgin’s current key partners, Singapore Airlines, is likely to remain on board under the relaunched Virgin Australia.

“Singapore Airlines is very important to us, and they acknowledge that we’re important to them,” Scurrah says.

Under the airlines’ existing reciprocal partnership, Virgin and Singapore Airlines codeshare on each other’s flights, while members of the Velocity and KrisFlyer frequent flyer programs can earn and burn points on the opposing airline’s flights.

Tiered frequent flyers – such as Velocity Gold and Platinum, and KrisFlyer Elite Gold, PPS Club and Solitaire PPS Club – also enjoy similar treatment when travelling on the partnered airline, with perks such as priority check-in, priority boarding and airport lounge access part of the parcel.

“We’ve had very good discussions with the partners that we had pre-COVID, (and) we’re going to have a very good international offering going forward … a very strong suite of partners overseas from an alliance point of view, a frequent flyer point of view; and those are things we know are very important to the corporate market,” says Scurrah.

However, he tips that “we haven’t ruled out anything in terms of partnerships or alliances,” hinting that some partnerships may begin, or others wrapped up, as Virgin Australia’s future international plans come together.

Also read: Will Virgin refund cancelled Tokyo, Los Angeles flights?

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Jun 2019

Total posts 15

Watching with dismay as our Platinum status winds down to Gold - and with no international flights on the horizon, zero opportunity in the required time frame to maintain or achieve points and SC.

It will be a long sabbatical without our annual trip to the USA, but we count oursleves lucky to have visited in January. I just have no idea who we will fly when X travel resumes. Fair bet - it won't be Virgin, unless they grab an A350 at auction somewhere.....

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 328

Virgin should 'tag-team' with Delta on the BNE/SYD/MEL-LAX route.  It would be good for both airlines, ensure a fuller and profitable payload of pax and, hopefully, assist/remind Delta to better co-ordinate onwards flights within USA (e.g.  DFW/Chicago, Washington DC, NYC, Orlando) to arrivals from AUS (and ditto on departing flights to AUS).  

bmc
bmc

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Aug 2013

Total posts 169

 I can think of a few blocking/veto partnerships that i hope cease

26 Jul 2015

Total posts 52

Happy Singair will remain onboard.

bmc
bmc

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Aug 2013

Total posts 169

Me also

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 195

Truie - Initially, the main international partnerships for the mediate future will be Singapore Airlines and Delta, as they will give VA better international coverage.

Travel bubbles are easier said than done. Profitable long haul flights are years away.

huge pent up demand for international flights. Flights within China are back to pre corona levels, but airlines in China have been giving away lots of cheap seats.

We're booked to fly to USA in January 2021 & am still confident we will get to go, without any quarantine.

Starting to wonder if recession is really effecting the young.

Many seem happy to spend every cent of their jobkeeper/seeker & youth allowance, so they might be the best for airlines to target with their offers. Maybe split payment offers every fortnight to coincide with welfare payments.

Families with big mortgages ? Maybe not.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 488

VA really need a multi roll plane that has great business seats for cross country and short international flights and then able to do Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne flights. I once did Bali on a VA 737 and thought bugger this never again, that went for Bali and the 737.

17 Aug 2020

Total posts 2

What news of Virgin's merchandise partners and use of VFF for this purpose?

bmc
bmc

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Aug 2013

Total posts 169

How much better are Delta over United?  I've flown United business class to San Francisco before and apart from the rather old aged battle fatigued cabin crew i thought UA was ok.  Is Delta miles ahead of United?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 328

I flew United First Class about ten (10) years ago (SYD-LAX, then SFO-SYD).  From memory (only), it may have been a 747.  Seating and F&B were exceptional.  The 2 cabin crew serving on outbound flight were truly dreadful (one struggled to speak basic English, preferring to point to items on the menu), the other I shan't say here.  The crew on SFO-SYD were marginally better but well short of even basic standards here in AUS.  I learnt that due to union rules, cabin crew at United get 'promoted' to International and Class based on years of service.  It explained why I saw better service being given behind us in Business.  

Two years ago I flew Delta Business class LAX to PHX (Sky Harbour) and back.  IMHO, seats not as good as those on Virgin Oz domestic J-Class, but cabin service was almost as good as Virgin.  I do recall that some female cabin staff (not all) bring a sort of 'attitude' on board that wouldn't last 'a single day' on Virgin Australia or Virgin Atlantic.  All male cabin staff encountered on Delta were good (i.e. friendly and efficient).

If flying today (oh how I wish) I'd not risk it, and go Delta (particularly if you have Gold/Platinum status with Virgin).


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