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Virgin Australia will launch new routes between Sydney and Wellington and between Melbourne and Queenstown from October this year, as the airline prepares to end its partnership with Air New Zealand – with extra flights also being added to Auckland from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
However, existing services from Brisbane to Wellington and from Melbourne to Christchurch will be wound back, with fewer flights each week.
Here’s what’s changing in Virgin Australia’s network to each New Zealand city.
Flights between Auckland and Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane
Virgin’s existing flights between Sydney and Auckland will be ramped up to run double-daily on weekends from October 28, and up to three times daily on weekdays – the third daily service, VA145/VA142, being added to the roster from December 10 2018:
Services between Melbourne and Auckland will also increase to run twice daily in each direction from late October, compared to 11 flights each week at present.
Out of Brisbane, Virgin’s current flying schedule will be rejigged from October 28, reducing to just one flight in each direction on Saturdays, but with a third flight running from Brisbane to Auckland early on Monday mornings and returning late on Friday evening for business travellers:
Flights between Christchurch and Melbourne
As of late October, Virgin Australia will move its Melbourne-Christchurch flight to a daily service.
Running in the evenings as VA99 out of Melbourne – pushing back at 6:35pm to land at 11:55pm – the flight will return as VA96, leaving NZ at 3:50pm to reach the Victorian capital in time for dinner at 5:45pm.
Virgin Australia currently runs up to 11 weekly flights on this route, although during off-peak times often winds that back to only four weekly services, with this change bringing more reliable flight options when Virgin Australia’s codeshares on Air New Zealand’s flights are removed.
Flights between Queenstown and Melbourne
With flights to Queenstown already available from both Sydney and Brisbane, Virgin Australia will launch a new Melbourne-Queenstown route from October 28, with three flights per week running as standard, increasing with a fourth weekly flight during periods of high demand:
Notably, Virgin Australia will be the only airline to offer business class on this route, as both Air New Zealand and Jetstar currently fly all-economy planes between the two cities.
Flights between Wellington and Sydney, Brisbane
For Sydney passengers, Virgin will kick off Sydney-Wellington flights from October 28, running five times per week in each direction – breaking the current duopoly on the route held by Qantas and Air New Zealand.
However, existing flights between Brisbane and Wellington will be dialled back to nine flights per week from up to 14 at present, with this change yet to be reflected in the airline’s booking system.
All new and revised trans-Tasman flights will be operated by Boeing 737-800 aircraft, featuring eight business class seats in a 2-2 layout, identical to what you’d find on the airline’s domestic flights but with new touches such as amenity kits on selected flights.
AusBT review: Virgin Australia trans-Tasman business class
Other routes not mentioned will continue as normal, including Virgin Australia’s Brisbane-Dunedin service, which is the only international service at Dunedin Airport.