Virgin Australia plans to restart flights between Sydney and Canberra on January 30 2022, some 21 months since the route was paused at the outset of the Covid pandemic.
But Virgin won't be doing the actual flying – instead, that will fall to ACT-based Link Airways and its nimble Saab 340 B Plus turboprops under a newly-minted regional partnership.
Link will run "up to 9 flights per day on weekdays", with those bookable through the Virgin Australia website.
The all-economy Saab 340s have 34 seats in a 2-1 layout (those solo seats are often the first to be booked) and all passengers will earn Velocity Points and Status Credits.
In addition, lounge-worthy passengers – such as those with Velocity Gold or Platinum status or Virgin Australia Lounge membership – will have access to Virgin's Sydney and Canberra airport lounges.
Virgin says the Link Airways alliance will extend its reach "into markets like Sydney-Canberra" that its own Boeing 737s "cannot serve effectively."
"As the airline quickly ramps up capacity across domestic and short-haul international services it will continue to evaluate new destinations and opportunities to connect Australia."
Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said the airline's relaunch of Sydney-Canberra flights would be "welcome news for our corporate and leisure customers and particularly those in the government sector who regularly travel to and from Sydney."
It will also turn the route into a three-horse race against nemesis Qantas and new challenger Regional Express, a competition which should spark a new round of low-price fares.