Virgin Australia hops on route merry-go-round

A thorough review from Virgin Australia into its network, fleet and capacity will see the carrier halt several of its routes, as it also prepares to fly to Japan for the first time.

Virgin will commence flying from Brisbane to Tokyo on 29 March next year, after the International Air Services Commission on 30 October confirmed the allocation of one slot at Haneda Airport in Tokyo to VA. The airline also signalled the week after it was canning the Melbourne-Hong Kong, Sydney-Christchurch and Canberra and Gold Coast-Perth routes.

The cuts will see a 2% reduction in domestic volume in the second half of 2020 when compared to the second half of 2019, the airline confirmed, with the cessation of Melbourne-Hong Kong also allowing the deployment of an Airbus A330 on the new Brisbane-Tokyo route.

The airline also intends to launch a Melbourne-Denpasar flight on 29 March, applying to the International Air Services Commission for 880 seats of capacity between Australia and Indonesia.

Reductions will also take place, on the Sydney-Tamworth route (from double-daily to six-weekly) and the Sydney-Auckland route (down from 19 to 14-weekly), while the International Air Services Commission will allow Virgin’s new Tokyo flights to be utilised for joint services with All Nippon Airways.

Virgin Australia Chief Executive Officer Paul Scurrah explained the airline’s direction at its annual general meeting earlier this month, highlighting “laser-focused” determination to move the airline towards profitability and return on investment, rather than chasing market share and revenue growth, saying, “we already have a strong position in a good, two-player industry that is growing”.