Virgin Australia plans Brisbane-Tokyo flights, ANA partnership

Virgin Australia wants to begin daily flights between Brisbane and Tokyo's Haneda Airport in March 2020.

By David Flynn, September 25 2019

Virgin Australia wants to begin daily flights between Brisbane and Tokyo's Haneda Airport in March 2020, with the airline staking a hometown claim to one of two new openings being offered to Australian airlines.

In a proposal to Australia's International Air Services Commission, Virgin says its Brisbane-Tokyo flights would add competition and choice to a route currently flown only by Qantas.

"The greatest public benefits are likely to be realised by splitting the available capacity between Virgin Australia and the Qantas Group," the airline states, adding that "Brisbane is underserved and the introduction of flights by Virgin Australia would bring competition to the market."

In Virgin's favour is that its Airbus A330 flights would arrive and depart from Tokyo's Haneda Airport, which is located much closer to the centre of Tokyo than the more distant Narita Airport used by Qantas.

Virgin, ANA partnership

Haneda also offers plenty of domestic flights within Japan through All Nippon Airways (ANA), with which Virgin will forge an alliance to strengthen its hand when it comes to onwards connections for Brisbane travellers heading beyond Tokyo.

"Our partnership with ANA will enable us to provide passengers travelling on our flights with access to over 1,300 return flights per week from Haneda to 38 points in Japan," the airline states, adding that the partnership also "includes plans for reciprocal code share services on sectors between and within Australia and Japan, underscores our level of commitment to entering the route."

Virgin' plans for Tokyo include a partnership with ANA.
Virgin' plans for Tokyo include a partnership with ANA.

Virgin also says that "a reciprocal loyalty benefits program" between its Velocity frequent flyer program and ANA's Mileage Club "will be launched in March 2020."

"Through this partnership, Virgin Australia and ANA will be able to compete more effectively with the combined strength of oneworld members Qantas Group and Japan Airlines."

ANA has also been offered a new route between Tokyo/Haneda and Australia, and is tipped to choose Melbourne as it already flies to Sydney and Perth.

Virgin notes that its US partner Delta Air Lines "will have a strong presence at Haneda after it shifts its Tokyo hub from Narita to Haneda in 2020, which may reveal further commercial opportunities Virgin Australia in the future. This has the potential to deliver further options and benefits for travellers."

Best business class from Brisbane to Tokyo?

Virgin says its daily Brisbane-Tokyo Airbus A330 flights would be in place by 29 March 2020, with "selected flights" including inflight Internet.

With all six of its Airbus A330s already spoken for, Virgin hasn't revealed where the Brisbane-Tokyo aircraft would come from: if this would see a reduction in flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Hong Kong, or pulling another A330 from the Sydney-Perth or Melbourne-Perth transcontinental schedule.

Virgin's proposed Brisbane-Tokyo flights will tempt travellers with its superb business class seat and service.
Virgin's proposed Brisbane-Tokyo flights will tempt travellers with its superb business class seat and service.

The International Air Services Commission intends to announce the outcome of its Australia-Tokyo route allocation by 31 October 2019.

Virgin's pitch comes in the wake of a sweeping review to 'rightsize' the airline – including a focus on routes – having recently posted a $315 million loss for the 2018-2019 financial year, topping seven straight years of losses adding up to $1.9 billion.

However, in its application for the Tokyo flights, Virgin said "preparations for Virgin Australia’s entry to the Japan route, in anticipation of a successful application to the Commission for an allocation of capacity to Haneda, have been underway for many months."

Read more: Why Qantas and Virgin are battling to launch new flights to Tokyo

David

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

21 Jan 2017

Total posts 49

potentially the best news for va and velocity this year!

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 64

Right - just like they began AUH with EY as partners, HKG with VS as partners, etc - what amazing cash cows those routes are!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jun 2011

Total posts 109

No doubt they'll can one of the HKG routes as an excuse to source an aircraft for HND. Moving from one burning cash pile into another....

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

17 Nov 2014

Total posts 94

Likely will be MEL-HKG

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 264

I think this is a good initiative for VA and the tie up with ANA is great ...but... it just always feels like VA's whole international strategy is all over the shop.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2015

Total posts 39

Bring it on! BNE seriously underserved for routes to Japan and I for one, will not miss the 6 hour detour via SIN with SQ to pick up points and status credits with Velocity.

I hope it materialises and I wish VA (and ANA) every success.

bmc
bmc

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Aug 2013

Total posts 140

hope they can time the flight to leave in the evening

this would allow other non-BNE peeps to tag along via same day connections

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 130

If I recall in the application the slot is a daytime arrival/evening departure out of Haneda.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 938

These are day slots. HND arrival and departure between 6am and 10pm.

VA does not have a good history of long haul routes. If they get a slot, I wouldn't expect them to last until renewal.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 55

This is a positive for Virgin - but after reading above comments people have to remember Virgin is not Qantas they are smaller and are restructuring with a good CEO leader now, every decision is now carefully thought out. Any news to their international network is going to be big and planned meticulously - if VA cut one of their HKG routes so be it, every airline is hurting flying to HKG with many cancellations. With AUH they flew there for years until EY took over the second flight out of Syd and focused on LA growth for the benefit of the airline which is doing well for them.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Nov 2011

Total posts 110

Problem is this route must be flown within 5 months of award. VA don't have a partnership in place and have yet to have any support in place. From ground crew to catering, servicing of aircraft and sales support.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 130

The official VA application on the IASC website clearly states that they intend to apply a codeshare relationship with NH to help get feed on both ends of the flight. In return VA would apply their code on the existing NH flights.

At this stage the VA/NH partnership is only proposed to be extended to a codeshare arrangement. Whether this leads to a full-blown JV in the future is unknown

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 130

The official application on the IASC website clearly states that it would be a codeshare partnership with NH (ANA). Makes sense for ANA to handle SYD/MEL/PER and leave BNE to VA with codeshares on each others flights.

25 Sep 2019

Total posts 2

Ground crew services etc ... Easy! No worries, ANA will do it all.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 253

VA have a partnership in place with NH, they're just waiting for approval from IASC. VA would have been getting everything in place for months before now.

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 52

Wise move for Virgin, unlike the Hong Kong Airlines tie up, ANA is the largest airline in Japan with an established passenger base. If Virgin has trouble filling up the a330 by itself, ANA with its sales network should be able to get the planes relatively full.

I still feel Virgin should look at getting a few more a330s, so that firstly it's fleet is not stretched to thin and secondly there are quite a few a330s from HNA and other airlines that have low mileage and are sitting collecting dust and might be able to be picked for a very low lease price.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 271

I believe with a partnership in place with ANA, this will become a great business decision. Hopefully this is the start of Virgin making decisions for it's long term future.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 109

Fantastic news !! Should be a very strong case for a slot to the IASC now. Great choice, between VAA and ANA they will offer direct flights to HANEDA from BNE,SYD,MEL and PER, fantastic result for Australian ans Japanese travellers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 May 2017

Total posts 67

Out of BNE on a tired outdated product... they must be dreaming!!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 271

While I have not been business on VA as I generally stick to QF, from all accounts (and reviews from ET/AUSBT) their A330 product is amongst the best. What are you basing your comment off?

25 Sep 2019

Total posts 2

Tired outdated product? Their A330s interior look new and clean still, I just flew them to HKG! Business class is fresh and modern, and economy is nice with the leather seats. Good on you VA, I'll see you in Japan in 9 months for me!

03 Nov 2014

Total posts 89

You obviously haven't flown on a Qantas 747 lately...my flight to Johannesburg Monday was a flashback to 2000

16 Nov 2018

Total posts 14

HNA Group Hainan Airline's wide body jets are over its capacity. So many A330 and B787 only fly one return domestic trip in China each day, then parked to collect dust. Just 2 aircrafts from them would really lift VA in the game.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Dec 2017

Total posts 44

I have a feeling that “The Business” between MEL-PER will soon by the business of the past!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 137

Will be interesting to see if JAL has been sizing up the Brisbane market as well

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 938

JAL used to fly to BNE, pulling out when they went through bankruptcy in 2009.

Having restarted MEL, it would be logical for the next AU route for JL to open is BNE.

25 Sep 2019

Total posts 2

As I'm based in brisbane i really hope virgin get it.

JTG
JTG

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 40

I don't see this working unless one way is overnight and the opposite way a day flight. With the finances the way they are, VA can not afford to have planes waiting around Tokyo all day

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 253

A condition of the route being approved is that the outbound flight is a daytime flight, so it will be a day flight up/night flight back, like HKG.

RIP Virgin A330 (east <-> west) coast flights :(

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

04 Sep 2018

Total posts 5

ANA = star alliance. If only the air new Zealand partnership With Virgin didn't break apart, we might have been one step closer to VA joining *A.

Interesting comment re: Delta.. Who I tip will be the next part owner.. But if course they are sky team...Locking out *A. Interesting times..

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 130

The *A ship for VA has long sailed since the NZ breakup.

In addition, UA and VA are hostile rivals and will want to see the DL partnership end for VA in the unlikely case of a VA application. Unless if that happens, UA will still likely exercise their veto rights.

VA and DL are pretty much joined at the hip, and if DL ends up buying the HNA and/or EY stakes in VA, then the coffin can be nailed shut for VA joining any Alliance in general (seeing that SQ from *A still has a minority stake in VA despite greatly drawing back involvement in VA).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jun 2011

Total posts 109

NZ would also exercise their right to veto VA joining after all the bad blood between them.

26 Sep 2019

Total posts 1

ANA is the bigger of the two Airlines in Japan and very successful. This strategy makes a lot of sense for them, saves them opening another operation in Brisbane, as they have just opened a Perth Office and daily flight.

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 61

Gr8 news -- may as well can HK -- its dead right now

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2014

Total posts 125

Would be happy if the ANA partnership covered all their services ... giving a direct Velocity option to Japan from Sydney.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1137

Good luck with that VA.

I just priced out SYDHKGHND--KIXHKGSYD in GDS today for a departure date later in October 2019 and it returned pricing using VA/NH for just less than $1K in economy. Interesting....NH was the preferred carried between Hong Kong and Japan (as opposed to Hong Kong Airlines.....)


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