Qantas and Virgin battle over Bali

Despite huge numbers of Aussies already flying to to Bali, utilising thousands of weekly seats allocated to both Virgin Australia and Qantas on the Indonesia route, both carriers want just a little bit more.

THE International Air Services Commission this week highlighted competing applications for another 172 weekly seats in each direction, with Virgin Australia lodging a submission for the additional capacity in late August in order to add another Boeing 737-800 service per week between Melbourne and Denpasar. Virgin noted it was currently allocated 4,752 seats in each direction which was being utilised on daily flights to DPS from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

“In line with the return of demand, additional services for the Northern Winter 2022 season are planned, meaning Virgin Australia will be utilising the majority of its bilateral capacity allocation by the end of this year,” the carrier said in its application – also noting that it would be the first ever Australian carrier to offer direct flights from the Gold Coast to Bali, with services planned to commence in March 2023. Interestingly, those new OOL flights are not governed by the current Australia-Indonesia aviation bilateral, which allows for unlimited capacity via Australia’s non-major capital city gateway airports.

In line with the requirements under its legislative framework, the IASC then sought other submissions for the 172 seats that Virgin was asking for. Normally these requests simply go unanswered, but in this case Qantas has popped up with its own application, seeking 162 seats on the Indonesia route to allow it to upgauge selected Sydney-Denpasar services from Boeing 737 to Airbus A330 aircraft.

The Commission noted it had now received more than one applications for determinations on the Indonesia route. “There is insufficient capacity for the Commission to make the determinations sought in all of the applications,” an update noted, with both carriers now having been invited to address the “additional public benefit criteria” of their proposed increases to capacity. Responses are now expected by 26 September, after which the IASC will in turn invite submisions from other interested parties.

It seems like a storm in a teacup, but it’s definitely going to be interesting to see how this one plays out.

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