Virgin Australia: Airbus A330 flights for Fiji, Sydney-Melbourne

By David Flynn, March 2 2015
Virgin Australia: Airbus A330 flights for Fiji, Sydney-Melbourne

Virgin Australia will upgrade its Sydney-Fiji flights from Boeing 737s to an Airbus A330 on selected days in April plus June through October 2014, and also roster the big twin-aisle jet onto selected Sydney-Melbourne flights.

However, the airline says there will be "no impact on existing A330 trans-continental services" between the east and west coasts.

The A330 will fly between Sydney and Nadi, Fiji on Saturdays during peak travel periods "in response to increased demand," Virgin says, in what marks the first international route for its A330 fleet.

"The A330 has 24 lie-flat business class seats which triples the number of premium class seats normally available on the route in response to the sustained increase in demand for premium product and services on flights to Fiji" said Virgin Australia Chief Commercial Officer Judith Crompton.

The A330s will run on Saturdays from 4 April 2015 – 18 April 2015 and 20 June 2015 – 24 October 2015, along with "select days during the Christmas and New Year period."

From September the Fiji-bound A330s will boast Virgin's next-generation business class seats (below).

Like the competing Qantas Business Suite, Virgin's new business class adopts a 1-2-1 layout to provide direct aisle access for every passenger.

It also packs plenty of room to work and stow your carry-on kit plus a large (16-18 inch) HD video screen and converts to a fully flat bed.

Read: Up close with Virgin Australia's new business class seats

Competitor Qantas doesn't fly its own jets to Fiji, relying instead on a codeshare service with partner Fiji Airways.

Those flights typically operate on Fiji Airways Airbus A330s which have the same type of business class as Virgin's current A330s – an angled bed in a 2-2-2 layout.

First look: Inside Air Pacific's new ‘Fiji Airways’ Airbus A330

AusBT review: Fiji Airways Airbus A330 business class, Nadi-Sydney

Virgin's A330s will also be rostered onto the Sydney-Melbourne corridor during "select morning weekday peak periods, as well as during international sporting events where there are peaks in demand during short periods."

There's no firm schedule at this stage, however, with Virgin saying only that travellers will be "able to see the type of aircraft scheduled to operate a flight during the booking process."

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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

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 226

Sydney to Melbourne I could've seen coming but didn't expect Fiji! I suppose only peak Saturday's isn't too drastic. Good idea if they're otherwise off duty on weekends!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 574

HOORAY!!

That literally put Fiji on my holiday radar. Wouldn't want to dump all those points on a reward seat for a 737!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Apr 2013

Total posts 47

There are nicer places in the pacific to holiday. Think about it. If you go away for 8 nights /9 days that's 216 hours of holiday time. Your only spending 8 hours of that time on a plane (if that). I'm just a little surprised at that. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Apr 2013

Total posts 47

Plus there's always a chance of a equipment swap. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Apr 2013

Total posts 47

Plus there's always a chance of a equipment swap. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 574

I mean when weighing up close destinations for quick winter getaways. Bali / Fiji etc for 4 nights.  It now gives me a flatbed option I can utilise with points. Perhaps not for everyone but it appeals to me.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

Fiji just became a more likely trip for me too, and I certainly won't mind a Coast to Coast configured A330 turning up on SYD-MEL either.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Feb 2014

Total posts 146

Good chance that 60% A330's from BNE to the West Coast will be changed to a 737 if there are delays on those flights 

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

16 May 2011

Total posts 116

That's pretty much a given, on the transcon routes, MEL is the strongest followed by SYD then BNE for both QF and VA.

PVM
PVM

04 Jul 2013

Total posts 22

I see SYD - MEL VA804 06:30am - 08:05am is now A332

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

Wow. That is BIG news!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards Gold

04 Jul 2014

Total posts 132

Fingers crossed I can snag some 330 SYD-MEL flights...

Zac
Zac

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2014

Total posts 128

This has just made my day!! Fantastic to be able to start/finish Fiji holidays in Virgin's A330 J class.

Just wish Virgin could start this 2 weeks earlier on the Queen's Birthday long weekend..

Virgin and Qantas normally leave their A330's on the ground during weekends when there is lower demand for trans continental Business Class travel. How Virgin plan to operate SYD-NAD-SYD Saturday's will be interesting, considering they will be conducting heavy maintenance/business class refit from Mid March 2015 in SIN. The cancellation of 2x B737 SYD-NAD-SYD on Saturdays will hopefully make up for it. I expect Virgin will compete SYD-MEL-SYD with QF during peak times Monday-Friday.

RR
RR

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 65

I don’t know what VA are thinking but after much promotion of the east-west A330 service only ONE of the 4 daily flights BNE-PER is on an A330. Other 3 on 737. Flew to Perth last week on a 737, just over 5 hours and really uncomfortable. The 737 biz seat barely reclines and is as hard as hell. Came back on A330, vastly more comfortable (and a full menu, unlike the 737) VA - How about delivering on this sector first? Will not fly that route with VA again on the 737.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

Hard as hell? I've flown so many VA 737-800 Business flights the last couple of years that I've lost count (including on flights to/from DPS). I have a spinal cord injury so I'm intensely sensitive to firm surfaces (I have hell with hotels, trying to get a bed I can sleep in), but I haven't had any problems with VA's seats (and they don't have a mattress pad for the 737-800 ones). Even the trip to DPS didn't create any problems. Can't relate your comment to my experience.

Virgin Australia - Platinum

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 90

Yes I agree the VA 737 business seats arent hard but the product is significantly worse than the A330. I have done over 50 business flights on the 737 product and while I am kind of used to it, getting onto a A330 is like a whole different level.

Now if only they could fit the new business class products onto the 737!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

It goes without saying that the A330 Business seating is of a greater quality (it's International Grade Angled Flat Bed after all), but that doesn't ipso facto mean that VA's 737 Business Seat is sub-standard. After all, Angled Lie Flat seating on Australian domestic short haul routes is - I think most would agree - far in excess of even the most generous need and that it exists at all is a strange quirk indeed.

Having sat in both seats frequently, I cannot pick a difference in seat softness/firmness. Seems pretty much the same to me. The difference is in storage space, fixed IFE, and some increases in dimensions.

I agree that Coast to Coast configured aircraft turning up on routes like SYD-MEL is lovely (as is happening lately) but I have no qualms boarding a 737 instead on such a route (it is only an hour and a bit after all). 

The priority, in my view, is standardising product on all PER-SYD/MEL flights (that's both QF and VA) before trying to focus on making us all spoilt putting it on flights of less than an hour or two (where it is lovely but by any measure OTT).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

Any flight that is 4 hours or more should be priority for Coast to Coast configured aircraft, with a qualified exception that on low demand routes (80% or less full cabins) there may be some justification sticking to 737 (it'd be unfair to expect VA to fly higher capacity aircraft on routes where they'll never fill them).

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 306

That is True.If what I have heard on 7 news is correct about the Overland Train getting the chop for good come 2016 I would not be surprised if some flights Melbourne to Adelaide and Return in either direction especially the peak time ones get the upgrade to the A330.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

03 Mar 2015

Total posts 1

I juts went to book my regular Wednesday night VA 698 from PER-MEL  for mid-May and noticed that it has been switched to 737. I checked the days either side, same deal. The flights during the day are still A330. My next scheduled trip, in mid-June, is back to the A330. Anyone have any idea what is going on there? Red-eyes grounded for the re-fits?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Nov 2011

Total posts 246

Didn't know that Fiji is a dense route. I would say upgrade all their 737s international with the domestic configuration.

Up frequency on the 737 is a nice idea too if slots available.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Feb 2012

Total posts 9

Virgin Australia will upgrade its Sydney-Fiji flights from Boeing 737s to an Airbus A330 on selected days in April plus June through October 2014, and also roster the big twin-aisle jet onto selected Sydney-Melbourne flights.


Did you mean 2015 not 2014? Hopefully we get something more permenant to take this beautiful A/C to!! I'm all for Fiji but it will be a return flight for us :-(

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards Platinum

29 Aug 2014

Total posts 38

I hope that eventuall VA uses all A330 to short-haul international routes (eg: NZ, Bali, Fiji etc), and B777 for long-haul (eg: AUH/LAX), while bringing more of B787 for popular domestic routes (Coast to Coast, SYD-MEL, MEL-BNE, BNE-SYD) - that will be my dream.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 167

It's all very well putting an A330 on some of  the Fiji flights but It's high time Brisbane got another Perth service with the A330 . I simply will not sit in what could only just be classed as a Business Class seat on their B737's  for about 5 hours. Quite poor entertainment system limited food and drinks service and fairly cramped seats .

Really not much better seats that economy !!

I do travel to Perth every couple of months and always go via Melbourne or Sydney to make sure I get the A330 . The evening VA service on an A330  gets into Perth far too late.

I am very passionate about supporting VA but sadly feel they are losing the battle with QF who have so many more A330 services and soon with most refitted with their new seats. I disturbs me to say I am seriously considering QF given their far better product BNE- PER.

Even when VA fit their new seats they still won't be able to compete on the BNE- PER with only one service a day with an A330. Perhaps get rid of a few B737 and get another A330 or better still an A350 or two !

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 306

I personally domestically would rather get a wide body than a 737 or E190 which is what VA uses for all the Adelaide flights regardless of demand.Have their considered now that Qantas no longer have 767's maybe upgrading some of the flights for the South Australian Markets depending on the circumstances to give them another reason to choose them over the Alan Joyce Run Devils.


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