Virgin Australia has axed all international flights in a dramatic response to the coronavirus and related travel restrictions, and will temporarily scale back to being a domestic-only airline between March 30 and June 14 – although even domestic capacity will be cut by 50%.
All flights to Los Angeles and New Zealand have been suspended until at least 14 June 2020, and the airline will ground 53 of its aircraft: including all five long-range Boeing 777-300ER jets, all six Airbus A330s and 34 of its workhorse Boeing 737s.
“We have entered an unprecedented time in the global aviation industry, which has required us to take significant action to responsibly manage our business while balancing traveller demands and supporting the wellbeing of Australians," said Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah.
"We have responded by making tough decisions which include reducing our domestic capacity and phasing in the temporary suspension of international flying for a period of two and a half months."
Here’s what you need to know.
Virgin Australia cancels Los Angeles flights
The airline’s flagship Sydney and Brisbane flights to Los Angeles will be cut as of March 30, with Melbourne-Los Angeles suspended from March 20.
Virgin Australia had previously planned to pare back its Sydney-Los Angeles flights from daily to five-times-weekly between early May and early June, leaving Melbourne-Los Angeles untouched at five return flights per week, and Brisbane-Los Angeles at its usual six return weekly flights.
Partner Delta Airlines has also announced plans to axe Sydney-LAX flights from March 20.
Virgin Australia pulls out of New Zealand
In addition, all of Virgin Australia’s international flights to and from New Zealand – which has long stood as the most popular international destination for Australians – are suspended as of March 30, as are Pacific Island and Denpasar/Bali services.
Brisbane-Tokyo launch pushed back
Virgin Australia’s newest international route, Brisbane-Tokyo, will no longer take wing on March 29, and the airline has not nominated a time frame when this might recommence,
The route was already reduced from a daily service to three return flights per week before the first flight took place.
Reductions to Virgin Australia domestic flights
Even in its pared-back 'domestic only' mode, Virgin Australia will reduce overall capacity by around 50% from March 30 to June 14, 2020, although it notes that the specific route and schedule details of these changes "are currently being worked through and will be published over the next week."
What to do if your Virgin Australia flight is cancelled
Given the significant number of flight changes and cancellations being rolled out across Virgin Australia’s network, many passengers will have their journeys disrupted.
Unless your travel is imminent, consider waiting at least a few days before getting in touch with the airline.
Where possible, use the Manage Booking tool on Virgin Australia’s website: particularly if your booking is subject to a ‘schedule change’, which you may be able to accept online to secure new flights.
If you do need to call Virgin Australia regarding travel reservations, the number is 13 67 89 (or +61 7 3295 2296 if dialling from overseas).
However, as one of the airline’s overseas call centres is currently closed due to local government isolation restrictions, expect much longer wait times than usual.
Depending on your circumstances and travel dates, you may also be able to change your flight at no charge, even if it hasn't been cancelled.