Virgin Australia scales back short-haul international flying

May 13, 2021
Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia is scaling back its international plans in the wake of the release in this week’s budget forecasts outlining new predictions for international travel of low visitations till at least mid-2022.

Virgin Australia is deferring most short-haul international flying, including to Fiji and Indonesia, until at least December 2021.

Continued efforts by State and Federal Government to refine trans-Tasman travel arrangements will however allow the airline to operate Boeing 737 services between Sydney-Queenstown and Brisbane-Queenstown, as planned from September 18, 2021, and Melbourne-Queenstown services from December 7, 2021.

Virgin Australia said that because current demand for other New Zealand destinations remains subdued, it will defer them from sale alongside services to Vanuatu, Samoa and the Solomon Islands for the time being.

Passengers impacted by the changes will be contacted directly and provided with options to obtain a full refund to the original form of payment or a credit for future travel with Virgin Australia.

While international travel is under a cloud domestic travel is soaring and Virgin is bringing back 10 737s to lift capacity.

Virgin Australia chief strategy and transformation officer Alistair Hartley said the new forecast for international travel has required it to reassess its network as well as give customers plenty of notice of any changes to their travel plans.

“While we know some Australians are itching to travel overseas, it is clear that international travel won’t return to normal as quickly as first anticipated,” Mr. Hartley said.

“We’re being realistic about restarting short-haul international flying, and have today delayed services to the Pacific, and to Bali, Indonesia until at least December.

“Although we’ve seen positive developments with the trans-Tasman travel bubble and Governments working exceptionally well to manage outbreaks, current demand for travel to New Zealand remains subdued, except for Queenstown, where customers are looking to travel over the September school holidays and the upcoming summer. All other New Zealand services will be deferred for the time being.

“We are continually reviewing our network to respond to the latest advice, and importantly looking at whether we can restart short-haul international flying, including to New Zealand earlier, should travel demand improve and circumstances change, Mr. Hartley said.

“Doing the right thing for our customers remains at the heart of our decision making, and while the impact is relatively low due to ongoing border uncertainty, we are working to provide affected customers with alternative options as quickly as possible.”