There are some big changes coming to Australian airline alliances and international routes from this weekend. Sunday, 28 October 2018 marks the official end of Virgin Australia’s alliance with Air New Zealand. But it’s also the beginning of new Qantas partnerships with both Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific. This weekend will also see several new routes launched from Australia, while other services will be axed or re-timed.
It’s no coincidence that these changes all take effect from this Sunday. The global aviation industry revolves around the northern summer and winter cycles, and many airlines use the changeover between these two seasons to adjust their schedules, routes and many other things. This year, the start of the northern winter period (and the end of daylight savings in Europe) falls on 28 October.
Here’s a summary of the changes from 28 October 2018 that affect Australians…
Virgin Australia Ends Air New Zealand Alliance
From Sunday, the long-running alliance between Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand will finally cease to exist. The changes from 28 October mean you’ll no longer be able to earn or redeem Velocity points on Air New Zealand flights, and your Velocity status won’t give you any benefits when flying Air New Zealand. Velocity members also lose access to all Air New Zealand lounges.
But it’s not all bad news for Velocity Frequent Flyer members. Virgin is launching a new international lounge network from this weekend and lounge access will still be available for most trans-Tasman Virgin flights. Virgin will also begin offering free checked bags and meals on New Zealand flights.
From next weekend, Virgin Australia will launch two new trans-Tasman routes; Sydney-Wellington and Melbourne-Queenstown. Virgin will also place its codeshare on Singapore Airlines’ Melbourne-Wellington route. Newcastle-Auckland services commence next month.
Qantas & Air New Zealand Codeshares Commence
On the same day that Air New Zealand gets out of bed with Virgin Australia, it’s getting into bed with its rival Qantas. From next Sunday, Qantas will codeshare on a range of Air New Zealand domestic routes (and vice versa). This means Qantas Frequent Flyer members will now have access to Air New Zealand lounges when flying on New Zealand domestic flights. But this is only available when booking a “QF” codeshare flight in conjunction with a Qantas trans-Tasman booking.
Qantas & Cathay Pacific Codeshares Commence
Qantas will also start to codeshare on select Cathay Pacific services from 28 October 2018. This includes the Perth-Hong Kong and Cairns-Hong Kong routes. Tickets have been on sale since last Monday.
Both Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific have traditionally been bitter rivals of Qantas… until now.
Australian Flight Changes
There are several other changes coming to international routes out of Australia from 28 October 2018:
- Hong Kong Airlines withdraws from the Hong Kong-Gold Coast-Cairns-Hong Kong route
- Virgin Australia resumes daily flights from Melbourne to Hong Kong with a consistent schedule
- Thai Airways is reducing flights from all Australian cities to Bangkok
- Significant schedule changes to Emirates‘ Singapore-Melbourne and Singapore-Brisbane routes
- Emirates’ daily Adelaide-Dubai service will be downgraded from a Boeing 777-300ER to a Boeing 777-200LR
- Sri Lankan Airlines will upgrade its daily Melbourne-Colombo service from an A330-200 to an Airbus A330-300 with a better Business Class product.
Fifth-Freedom Routes Terminated
A number of fifth-freedom flights from around the world will also come to an end this weekend:
- Singapore-Colombo with Emirates
- Dubai-London with Royal Brunei Airlines
- Vancouver-New York with Philippine Airlines
- Bangkok-Hanoi with Qatar Airways
- Hong Kong-Seoul with Thai Airways
(Don’t forget, there’s an updated list of fifth-freedom routes on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum.)