In a strong response to recent aggressive competition from rivals Qantas and Rex, Virgin Australia jumped out of the box today, announcing new routes and increased frequencies on existing routes. The airline is trialing two new routes, and 18 existing routes will see extra flights, all in time for the Easter holidays.
Virgin Australia moves onto two Jetstar routes
Virgin Australia is trialing two new routes. They are Adelaide – Sunshine Coast / Maroochydore, and Melbourne to Ballina Byron. Traditionally, these leisure-orientated routes have been Jetstar’s turf. But Virgin Australia plans to trial the routes between March 29 and April 25 initially.
With both Ballina Byron and the Sunshine Coast Airports just a stone’s throw from the toney coastal holiday hotspots of Byron Bay and Noosa, there’s plenty of premium leisure traffic on these routes. That’s a demographic targeted by CEO Jayne Hrdlicka under Virgin Australia’s new hybrid strategy. In the absence of choice, Byron’s A-listers might be flying Jetstar up from Melbourne right now, but they are probably ripe for the picking by Virgin Australia.
A friendlier flying environment makes it a perfect time to step up flying
Right now, the airline is taking advantage of, inadvertently or otherwise, a friendlier flying environment in Australia. After a year of minimal travel, many Australians are keen for a holiday and happy to rediscover their own backyard while international travel remains off-limits. Internal border closures have stymied that willingness to travel locally. However, except for people living in the state of Victoria, most Australians are now free to travel relatively unhindered around the country. And with the Easter school holidays coming up, it’s a perfect time for Virgin Australia to ramp up its flying.
“The tourism industry depends on all of us getting out and safely enjoying the company of family, friends, and great adventures. We have all worked hard to get to a place where we can enjoy these travel opportunities once again,” said Virgin Australia’s Jayne Hrdlicka today.
“We are making it easier and more affordable for travelers to take a holiday with many more options for travel direct to key leisure destinations.”
Virgin Australia frequencies ramp up on popular leisure routes
Both Sunshine Coast and Ballina Byron Airports are also seeing frequencies on existing routes increase. Virgin Australia will operate 14 frequencies a week between Sydney and Ballina Byron by April 4. Sunshine Coast Airport will also see 14 return flights a week from Sydney by April 4. There will also be up to 18 return services a week between Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast by April 4.
The Gold Coast is also seeing Virgin Australia flights increase. Passenger traffic at that airport was down 73% for calendar 2020, and the airport will welcome the extra business. There will be up to 55 return flights a week between Sydney and the Gold Coast by April 11. The Melbourne – Gold Coast route will see up to 38 return services by April 4. It’s good to see Virgin Australia back on the Adelaide – Gold Coast route and Canberra – Gold Coast route. Both routes will also see increased flights by April 4.
Tasmania & North Queensland see increased Virgin Australia flights
Frequently forgotten, Tasmania is also getting some love from Virgin Australia. The airline will operate up to 10 return services a week between Brisbane and Hobart. There will also be four return services a week between Brisbane and Launceston by April 4. One of the unforeseen consequences of last year’s travel downturn is the now improved connectivity between the Queensland capital and Tasmania. Out of Melbourne, Virgin Australia will operate up to 26 return services a week to Hobart and 21 return services a week to Launceston by April 4.
North Queensland also sees renewed interest from Virgin Australia. Flights to Cairns from Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane will all increase. Up to 33 return services a week will operate between Brisbane and Cairns by April 11. Elsewhere, Hamilton Island will enjoy up to 12 return services a week from Brisbane by April 4. There will also be up to nine return services a week between Brisbane and Prosperine (Whitsunday Coast) by the same date.
A return to competitive form for Virgin Australia
Virgin Australia spent the southern summer season getting comprehensively outfoxed by Qantas and overshadowed by the upstart airline, Rex. So it’s good to see Virgin Australia returning fire with some network improvements. If travel within Australia remains relatively unrestricted, the next few months may see domestic travel demand rebound back towards 2019 levels. As Virgin Australia’s Jayne Hrdlicka said today;
“There’s a lot to look forward to this Easter.”