Virgin Australia exec: why Fiji got our first international A330

By Chris Chamberlin , May 28 2015
Virgin Australia exec: why Fiji got our first international A330

It was long thought that Virgin Australia’s Airbus A330s would at some point leave our shores and ply international routes, although the airline surprised almost everybody when the crown went to Fiji – specifically, the 4-5 hour trek between Sydney and Nadi.

With the A330s already boasting international-grade business class seats and soon to offer fully-flat beds at the pointy end, we asked Virgin Australia’s Chief Commercial Officer Judith Crompton to share why the airline chose Fiji for its A330s over destinations such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

Coming to the A330s: Virgin Australia's latest business class seat
Coming to the A330s: Virgin Australia's latest business class seat

“Fiji is a very important market for us,” Crompton tells Australian Business Traveller, “and the drive behind Fiji was higher traffic that we are experiencing on the weekends and at peak periods such as school holidays.”

“It’s also a flagship product, and we thought: ‘let’s showcase it’,” Crompton shares with a smile, mentioning that the basic economics of supply and demand also favoured the decision.

Earlier this year competitor Fiji Airways was unopposed in offering business class between Sydney and Nadi, although Virgin Australia came to the plate in March by rolling out its own business class seats on flights to the Pacific Islands, and also New Zealand.

Now available on all Virgin Australia flights to Fiji, New Zealand, year-round...
Now available on all Virgin Australia flights to Fiji, New Zealand, year-round...

“Business class across the Tasman … was one missing piece of our corporate and high-end leisure proposition,” Crompton continues.

“There we were flying across the Tasman on 2.5-3hr flights without a business class product, and it was absolutely critical that we implemented one in line with our vision and our strategy to be a full premium brand airline.”

Predominantly served by smaller domestic-style Boeing 737s, business travellers can now perch themselves at the pointy end while enjoying Luke Mangan-inspired meals and larger seats to trump the premium economy offering they replaced.

One of Mangan's Virgin Australia business class dishes: lamb meatballs
One of Mangan's Virgin Australia business class dishes: lamb meatballs

Add to that: pre-flight access to Air New Zealand’s brand new Sydney lounge for Virgin Australia’s business class guests, and on-demand inflight entertainment via wireless streaming to your own device or a supplied Samsung tablet.

The only drawback? There’s actually no lounge in Nadi for VA’s premium passengers, although Priority Pass members can stop by the Fiji Airways Tabua Lounge before their Virgin Australia flight, while any Virgin Australia passenger could instead cough up FJD$75 at the door for entry.

Virgin Australia’s Airbus A330s will appear on flights between Sydney and Nadi every Saturday between June 20 and October 24 2015, and on selected days during the Christmas and New Year period.

Also read:

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

bmc
bmc

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Aug 2013

Total posts 141

So is VA going to annouce a new internation destination or is this it?

We've shared what we know in the article – if we knew more, we'd have certainly shared that too.

bmc
bmc

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Aug 2013

Total posts 141

No worries Chris.  I wasn't having a go it was just a simple question

No worries. :)

16 May 2014

Total posts 99

I have a feeling that might be more to do with Perth. I think the delay on the Perth terminal has put back the announcement. Maybe they wanted to announce it at the same time as the terminal opens. (Just a thought bubble)

God knows when that will open tho.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

They'll scrap them before the terminal opens!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Aug 2011

Total posts 9

I am travelling from NAN-SYD on Saturday 20th June in Business... will i get to expereince the new seat?

Reason for PR Purposes: 

“Fiji is a very important market for us...and the drive behind Fiji was higher traffic that we are experiencing on the weekends and at peak periods such as school holidays.”

Real reason: 

  • Qantas does not fly it's own metal to Nandi
  • We think the market penetration by Fiji Airways is not that strong and its an easier competitor to beat
  • Given both reasons above, our new international hard product will give us a leading edge on this sector and allow us to make the highest margins possible.

Typo! Its Nadi not Nandi!

07 Aug 2012

Total posts 197

Another "Real reason":

Where do we already fly that has higher demand on weekends, when we don't need the A330 to fly to PER? NAN.

No point sending the A330 to HKG or SIN, when VA can only spare the aircraft on weekends.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 342

We spent 9 days in Fiji this month for R&R disappointing we couldn't get into the Air New Zealand lounge (Platinum VA) at Nadi and the kids onboard trashed the plane,  I'm sure there was a kid sitting on someone lap in every row.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 574

They're two major issues. Adding a business class equipped plane doesn't equate to a premium service. You need a lounge and you need priority boarding.

Family destinations and planes full of screaming kids are enough to ruin your holiday. At least a wide body aircraft can be zoned with the bassinets down back.

The demand to HKG would categorically exceed Nadi. It must be big bro Singapore leaning on VA saying "we have a 13 hour trip as an option to VA elite status guests." But not even the most points hungry person would opt for that connection when you have QF and CX running direct.

14 Jan 2015

Total posts 2

any idea when the new seats will be installed on the Fiji flight?


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Virgin Australia exec: why Fiji got our first international A330