Virgin Australia is targeting northern destinations in a move that will open up 250 jobs and contribute to 700 additional weekly flights across the airline’s network by October.
Virgin chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka announced Thursday that the airline would operate five new direct services the airlines says will benefit the Northern Australia’s economy.
The 250 new jobs are in addition to 370 announced last month and the airline said they would be recruited for its operational and corporate teams over the coming months.
The airline will start daily Sydney-Darwin flights from July 14 and a four times weekly Adelaide -Cairns service from August 10. It will also operate three flights per week between Sydney and Townsville from July 27 and three times weekly Melbourne-Townsville services from August 17.
West Australians will also be able to fly from Perth to Cairns up to four times a week from July 26.
Virgin will boost flight frequencies to key Queensland destinations by 40 per cent, including Brisbane, the Whitsunday Coast, Hamilton Island, Cairns, Townsville, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
And travelers from Tasmania will benefit from an additional 50 weekly flights to Launceston and Hobart by October, an increase of 38 per cent on the current schedule.
Important business-oriented services on the Sydney-Brisbane-Melbourne triangle will be ramped up with an average of 100 daily flights every day by October, an increase of 30 per cent on today.
Hrdlicka attributed the increase to growing confidence in the community stemming from the rollout of vaccines and greater stability with internal borders.
“We are so pleased to have turned a corner from the worst of the pandemic and to soon welcome 250 new and highly skilled individuals into the Virgin Australia team,’’ she said..
“Importantly, Virgin Australia is supporting over 6,000 jobs, which is something we flagged in August last year as the baseline number of jobs we hoped to support as the domestic market recovered.
“And for our valued business customers, we are pleased to be offering more frequent services on our triangle routes between Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne and to key centers across Australia.”
Virgin is in a three-way battle with the Qantas Group and new contender Rex and is targeting leisure and business customers, particularly from small to medium enterprises, as part of a mid-market strategy.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was unperturbed by the Virgin expansion when asked about it at a press conference Thursday, saying the bigger airline had announced 38 new routes since July, was operating at 70 percent capacity share in the domestic market and had taken corporate customers from Virgin.
Joyce argued the group had the perfect model, with Qantas operating as the “BMW” and “Mercedes” of air travel in Australia and Jetstar competing against Rex and Virgin in the price sensitive market with fares as low as $19.
“And what we are actually seeing is the battle is between Virgin and Rex,’’ he said.
“They have the same aircraft — the Rex aircraft are ex-Virgin aircraft with the same product on board, they look exactly the same on board — and they’re both going for the same middle of the road strategy.
“They’re both going aggressively against each other on the routes that they are on.”
Here is a list of Virgin’s proposed flight frequencies:
Expanded domestic frequencies on the “triangle” (Sydney-Brisbane-Melbourne):
- Sydney-Melbourne (from 130 up to 163 return flights per week by October)
- Sydney-Brisbane (from 76 up to 104 return flights per week by October)
- Melbourne-Brisbane (from 61 up to 84 return flights per week by October)
Expanded domestic and leisure frequencies include:
- Melbourne-Gold Coast (from 40 up to 55 return flights per week by October)
- Sydney-Gold Coast (from 49 up to 72 return flights per week by October)
- Adelaide-Gold Coast (from 7 up to 9 return flights per week across school holiday travel dates)
- Melbourne-Sunshine Coast (from 13 up to 28 return flights per week by October)
- Sydney-Sunshine Coast (from 11 up to 26 return flights per week by October)
- Brisbane-Cairns (from 29 up to 31 return flights per week by October)
- Melbourne-Cairns (from 8 up to 20 return flights per week by October)
- Sydney-Cairns (from 10 up to 20 return flights per week by October)
- Brisbane-Proserpine / Whitsunday Coast (from 7 up to 10 return flights per week by October)
- Melbourne-Hamilton Island (up to 4 return flights per week by October)
- Melbourne-Hobart (from 18 up to 31 return flights per week by October
- Sydney-Hobart (from 10 up to 20 return flights per week by October)
- Melbourne-Launceston (from 16 up to 21 return flights per week by October)
- Brisbane-Mackay (from 20 up to 30 return flights per week by October)
- Brisbane-Townsville (from 20 up to 31 return flights per week by October)
- Brisbane-Perth (from 17 up to 24 return flights per week by October)
- Brisbane-Canberra (from 18 up to 24 return flights per week by October)