Virgin Australia is axing flights to seven domestic destinations – and withdrawing from another Pacific Island country – as the airline’s new owner moves to right-size Virgin’s network, rebuild its financial position and transition to an all-Boeing 737 fleet.
Flights to Ayers Rock (Uluru), Hervey Bay and Tamworth, plus the Sydney-Port Macquarie route, are all now culled, as are flights to Albury, Cloncurry and Mildura.
The Brisbane-Port Macquarie service operated by Alliance Airlines on behalf of Virgin Australia will remain, although this is currently suspended due to interstate border closures.
Internationally, Tonga will not return to Virgin Australia’s route map even as current travel restrictions ease, with the permanent withdrawal of Sydney-Nuku’alofa flights.
In total, nine Virgin Australia routes will face the chop, as follows:
- Sydney-Ayers Rock (Uluru, Yulara)
- Sydney-Hervey Bay (QLD Fraser Coast)
- Sydney-Nuku’alofa (Tonga)
- Sydney-Port Macquarie
- Mount Isa-Cloncurry
A Virgin Australia spokesperson confirmed the developments with Executive Traveller, explaining that “with the changes to simplifying our fleet and ongoing subdued customer demand, we have been required to make some adjustments to our network.”
“We remain committed to regional Australia and we plan to continue to fly to 20 regional destinations in Australia. We will continue to review our network as travel restrictions ease and demand returns.”
Speaking at this month's CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation Summit prior to today's news, Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah hinted that “I do expect we will lose market share because there are routes that weren’t making any money.”
Although Virgin Australia is not currently operating flights to or from these destinations, passengers holding existing bookings will be contacted to discuss their options.
Travellers who booked their journey via a travel agent, however, will need to speak with their agent, rather than the airline.
Virgin Australia's regional lounges in Alice Springs and Perth (Terminal 2) have also closed permanently, although Perth-based travellers can still access the airline's flagship lounge in Terminal 1, even if departing from Terminal 2.