Virgin Australia is once again soaring in overseas skies as the airline continues to charts its course out of not only the ongoing pandemic but the carrier’s own collapse, buyout and restructure.
After almost 20 months flying only domestic routes, Virgin’s first service to Fiji pushed back from Gate 55 at Sydney Airport this morning.
“Australians love Fiji and Virgin Australia is getting travellers there at great value,” said Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.
“Prior to the pandemic, Virgin Australia held the highest market share of any other Australian carrier for services operated to Fiji and we aim to continue being very competitive.”
The airline hopes to add Melbourne and Brisbane to its Fiji flightplan early next year, while Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane should all reconnect with Bali on 27 March 2022.
New Zealand could remain off the cards until at least April 30 2022, when the country will begin a “staged” re-opening to the rest of the world, although there’s hope that trans-Tasman travel could make an earlier return.
While the airline is now rebuilding its Boeing 737 fleet to 84 jets – the same level as before Virgin’s sudden collapse in April 2020 – CEO Jayne Hrdlicka has said it will take a cautious approach to international flying, focusing on New Zealand, the South Pacific and Bali.
Hrdlicka is also tamping down previous claims that Virgin would return to long-range overseas routes such as Los Angeles and Tokyo when demand bounced back, telling the audience at an Australian aviation summit earlier this month that “whether we go back in with long-haul flying ourselves is an open question.”
That question may already have been answered with this week’s announcement of a new alliance between Virgin and United Airlines to replace its long-standing partnership with Delta Air Lines.
This will allow Virgin to tap into United’s trans-Pacific network of flights from both Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles and San Francisco, along with the marathon Sydney to Houston trek, when most of those routes “resume later in 2022.”