Virgin Australia says it has no plans to fly the two Boeing 777s which remain under its ownership some 12 months since Bain Capital retired the airline's Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 fleets as part of its 'Virgin Australia 2.0' reboot.
While four of the five Boeing 777-300ER jets were fully owned by Virgin, to date only two have been sold off – the other pair remain on the books of VB Leaseco, one of the many arms of Virgin Australia Holdings, and are still parked at Toowoomba's Wellcamp Airport, 130km west of Virgin's Brisbane base.
Virgin has always insisted that it would resume long-range international flying when demand on its key routes returned.
"Long-haul international operations are an important part of the Virgin Australia business," the airline has said in a statement.
"However, given current international travel restrictions, the airline will continue to suspend flights to Los Angeles and Tokyo with the intention to recommence and grow long-haul flights when sufficient demand returns."
Separately, Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka has said "we are really looking forward to restarting (long-haul international flying) with a principal focus on Japan and the USA", although short-range overseas services would be first cab off the rank.
With Australia's international borders now set to reopen in December, Tokyo and Los Angeles are among the first destinations that rival Qantas plans to reboot from December 18.
In short order, flights between Australia and Tokyo are expected to be offered by Qantas and its Oneworld partner Japan Airlines, and Star Alliance member and Virgin partner ANA.
As previously reported, Virgin Australia was due to begin flights from Brisbane to Tokyo's Haneda Airport flights on March 29, 2020, although this route was cancelled weeks before launch in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A Virgin Australia spokesman told Executive Traveller that the airline "has retained its capacity allocation in Tokyo Haneda with the intention of commencing Australia-Japan services in the future."
Similarly, the familiar foursome of Qantas, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines will all be flying to Los Angeles.
The continued presence of those two Boeing 777-300ER jets at Wellcamp Airport and on Virgin's books has sparked some speculation that the airline could reactivate those jets, and their former Virgin Australia crew, to kick-start one international route.
This is despite that the 339-seat Boeing 777s would be ill-matched against soft post-pandemic demand, especially compared to more mid-sized and fuel-efficient Boeing 787s and Airbus A350s.
While Virgin Australia declined to offer an on the record comment, Executive Traveller understands that the airline 'disclaimed' these aircraft in the process of going through voluntary administration in late 2020, and is now working to complete their title transfer from VB Leaseco.
"We remain in discussions with aircraft manufacturers on a fleet strategy to support the reintroduction of widebody services when long-haul international travel demand returns," a Virgin Australia spokesman told Executive Traveller.