Is Virgin planning to axe flights to Port Moresby?

Mattg

Enthusiast
Joined
Aug 21, 2011
Messages
10,064
Solutions
10
Points
1,335
I was just having a look at Virgin's policy for changes to domestic & international bookings during COVID-19. Interestingly, they are allowing free changes to trans-Tasman and international short-haul bookings except to Rarotonga, Tonga and Port Moresby.

For flights to Rarotonga, Tonga or Port Moresby, Virgin says:

International Long Haul travel and travel to/from Tonga, Rarotonga and Port Moresby​

Guests are not permitted to make changes to these bookings. If you hold a booking for International Long Haul travel (including travel to/from Tonga, Rarotonga and Port Moresby), please contact our Guest Contact Centre or your Travel Agent for further information.

The reason for changes not being allowed on flights to TBU or RAR would seem to be because Virgin has publicly stated they are not returning to either of those destinations. But I don't recall an announcement about Virgin cancelling flights to POM. Did I miss the announcement? Or perhaps I'm reading too much into this?
 
AMX001595_Travel-Insider_1100x260

henrus

Active Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Messages
576
Solutions
4
Points
290
Good pick up @Mattg , Virgin has indeed "withdrawn" from Port Moresby flights, and whilst no announcement has been made, it's clear that's the case in the latest COVID policy issued to agents dated 14 January 2021 (see page 3 - table left-hand side)


Honestly, I'm not surprised, even before COVID VA switched to Alliance to operating the route and only on weekdays. The administrators report indicated there were also cash flow problems on the route, when talking about overseas bank accounts the following was said about Papua New Guinea:

"The balance c. $11m of cash in minor currency accounts primarily comprises c. $10m. equivalent of PGK denominated cash which is trapped due to a shortage of Australian dollars in Papua New Guinea. As a result, these fund are not expected to be released from Papua New Guinea."

I imagine it's tough doing business where your funds are trapped in another country with no ability to move them back into your primary operating currency.
 

Mattg

Enthusiast
Joined
Aug 21, 2011
Messages
10,064
Solutions
10
Points
1,335
Honestly, I'm not surprised, even before COVID VA switched to Alliance to operating the route and only on weekdays. The administrators report indicated there were also cash flow problems on the route, when talking about overseas bank accounts the following was said about Papua New Guinea:

"The balance c. $11m of cash in minor currency accounts primarily comprises c. $10m. equivalent of PGK denominated cash which is trapped due to a shortage of Australian dollars in Papua New Guinea. As a result, these fund are not expected to be released from Papua New Guinea."

I imagine it's tough doing business where your funds are trapped in another country with no ability to move them back into your primary operating currency.

Wow - and I thought the ~30% average load factors was the biggest problem with the PNG flights!

Thanks for sharing that document from 14 January. It does indeed refer to Port Moresby as a "withdrawn" market. I'm surprised there was no announcement!
 

HS-TQE

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2018
Messages
488
Solutions
1
Points
220
I'm surprised that POM lasted that long despite the flight being 'outsourced' to Alliance. I'm guessing the freight on the VA/QQ POM flights wasn't enough to 'subsidise' the low load factors.
 

henrus

Active Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Messages
576
Solutions
4
Points
290
I'm surprised that POM lasted that long despite the flight being 'outsourced' to Alliance. I'm guessing the freight on the VA/QQ POM flights wasn't enough to 'subsidise' the low load factors.
It's hard to tell but mail contracts and some agreements with the Australian government may have kept it going longer than it should have.

Whilst I'm not sure about Port Morseby, on flights to/from Port Vila there always seemed to be Australian government staff seated up front who got escorts upon arrival/departure. Likewise, half the plane was always full of mail from basically every shipping company - DHL, Fedex, AusPost etc. It always seemed odd they didn't use Air Vanuatu for this but maybe there was more trust in Virgin and perhaps the same occurred for the Port Morseby flights.
 

Bagpuss

Established Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
1,098
Solutions
2
Points
395
I was just having a look at Virgin's policy for changes to domestic & international bookings during COVID-19. Interestingly, they are allowing free changes to trans-Tasman and international short-haul bookings except to Rarotonga, Tonga and Port Moresby.

For flights to Rarotonga, Tonga or Port Moresby, Virgin says:



The reason for changes not being allowed on flights to TBU or RAR would seem to be because Virgin has publicly stated they are not returning to either of those destinations. But I don't recall an announcement about Virgin cancelling flights to POM. Did I miss the announcement? Or perhaps I'm reading too much into this?
The plan is for Alliance to operate to Port Moresby from Brisbane are part of the co-orindation request which has intermin authorisation.

I expect with will be flow by a F100 or E Jet.


 

henrus

Active Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Messages
576
Solutions
4
Points
290
The plan is for Alliance to operate to Port Moresby from Brisbane are part of the co-orindation request which has intermin authorisation.

I expect with will be flow by a F100 or E Jet.

I suspect that's is no longer the case. VA had always been using Alliance for the POM route and they included it in the October 2020 application so that this could continue.

It seems that since then they've decided otherwise hence removing POM from future bookings and in the Version 29 - January 2021 agent covid document saying they are "withdrawing" from the POM route.

I guess if VA does ever fly to POM again, they've got $10 million in the bank account ready to get it started.
 
Trying to access your favourite Australian websites when overseas only to discover they have been geo-blocked? Concerned about your internet privacy especially when using unsecured wifi? NordVPN will solve both these common problems.

AFF Supporters can remove this and all advertisements

Bagpuss

Established Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
1,098
Solutions
2
Points
395
I suspect that's is no longer the case. VA had always been using Alliance for the POM route and they included it in the October 2020 application so that this could continue.

It seems that since then they've decided otherwise hence removing POM from future bookings and in the Version 29 - January 2021 agent covid document saying they are "withdrawing" from the POM route.

I guess if VA does ever fly to POM again, they've got $10 million in the bank account ready to get it started.
Dont believe that's the case, other routes arent loaded such as Sydney - Port Macquarie, Sydney - Ayers Rock, Brisbane - Port Macquarie, Brisbane - Tamworth etc.

Virgin tends to take a conservative approach in recent times and expect them to start scheduling and selling tickets once they have final authorisation. They can open up ticket sales at any point.
 
Last edited:

Scarlett

Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2011
Messages
498
Points
295
Qantas
LT Gold
Virgin
Platinum
There is still a ways to run yet with the current pandemic, so AUS-PNG air travel may not even be PX and QF in the future.

I'm one of those who would love to have visited PNG in the past and maybe still at some time in the future. Right now however, things are a little more concerning, even without considering COVID related restrictions. I wonder how the levels of pax and freight have varied over time between Aus and PNG? (I've tried to find that data in the BITRE stats, but am clearly not familiar enough with them - what I can tell from them appears to be that available seats grew solidly between 2004 and 2015, but has been generally falling since then)
 

ja1

Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2015
Messages
315
Points
215
I was just having a look at Virgin's policy for changes to domestic & international bookings during COVID-19. Interestingly, they are allowing free changes to trans-Tasman and international short-haul bookings except to Rarotonga, Tonga and Port Moresby.

For flights to Rarotonga, Tonga or Port Moresby, Virgin says:



The reason for changes not being allowed on flights to TBU or RAR would seem to be because Virgin has publicly stated they are not returning to either of those destinations. But I don't recall an announcement about Virgin cancelling flights to POM. Did I miss the announcement? Or perhaps I'm reading too much into this?
Hi Matt,

Do you have a link to where VA said they wouldn't be going back to TBU/RAR or know why ? Was it a 'pause' or a permanent cancellation do you think ? RAR used to be a great destination.. for a status run.. and as an endpoint. Quite sad I may never do that run again..

Given they were using the 737 to do it anyway I'm slightly surprised they didn't want to keep it..
 

Must...Fly!

Established Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2010
Messages
4,628
Points
700
Qantas
Bronze
Virgin
Platinum
Hi Matt,

Do you have a link to where VA said they wouldn't be going back to TBU/RAR or know why ? Was it a 'pause' or a permanent cancellation do you think ? RAR used to be a great destination.. for a status run.. and as an endpoint. Quite sad I may never do that run again..

Given they were using the 737 to do it anyway I'm slightly surprised they didn't want to keep it..
It was announced in mid March, first tranche of COVID related news. But before we knew how bad it might really be - quite certain it was on the possible chop list for a while beforehand.
 

ja1

Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2015
Messages
315
Points
215
It was announced in mid March, first tranche of COVID related news. But before we knew how bad it might really be - quite certain it was on the possible chop list for a while beforehand.
Yeah, I'm really not surprised.. I did my run back in 2019 and it was a relatively lightly loaded plane.. (surprisingly so to me!). My one and only run in J! Never to be repeated apparently...

I wish I understood their original business case for RAR in the first place to understand why it went and isn't going to come back..

You'd imagine that in terms of international travel starting back up for us, NZ and the pacific islands are just about the best destinations and are the ones most likely to have a completely vaccinated population (given the small bases involved).
 

Must...Fly!

Established Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2010
Messages
4,628
Points
700
Qantas
Bronze
Virgin
Platinum
Yeah, I'm really not surprised.. I did my run back in 2019 and it was a relatively lightly loaded plane.. (surprisingly so to me!). My one and only run in J! Never to be repeated apparently...

I wish I understood their original business case for RAR in the first place to understand why it went and isn't going to come back..

You'd imagine that in terms of international travel starting back up for us, NZ and the pacific islands are just about the best destinations and are the ones most likely to have a completely vaccinated population (given the small bases involved).
Some here may be in the know. It might have been a way to try and extract more (or some) value from the NZ crew bases and more flying time from the aircraft. I can not recall the original justification for moves in to the Pacific in the DJ days - presumably they were the first to provide some real competition for some years and saw the opportunity.
 

henrus

Active Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Messages
576
Solutions
4
Points
290
Dont believe that's the case, other routes arent loaded such as Sydney - Port Macquarie, Sydney - Ayers Rock, Brisbane - Port Macquarie, Brisbane - Tamworth etc.

Many of those routes you've mentioned aren't loaded because Virgin did come out to the press late last year and say they were canceled:

See the agency memo below:

As for the Tonga and Rarotonga flights they never did very well outside of peak times. Both of these flights were operated by VA NZ crew who were cut so these routes became some of the first to go.

Also quite funny as this thread seems to have been picked up by Andrew from Simple Flying, who's basically written his article based on some of the posts from this thread.

 
Last edited:

AIRwin

Established Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2013
Messages
4,171
Solutions
6
Points
700
Qantas
Gold
Virgin
Gold
It was announced in mid March, first tranche of COVID related news.
@ja1 Here is the media release on 13 March 2020:

Extract:
In addition, the Group also announced an exit of the following services as a continuation of the ongoing network strategic review:
• Auckland-Tonga to cease on 1 May.
• Auckland-Rarotonga to cease on 21 July.
 

Bagpuss

Established Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
1,098
Solutions
2
Points
395
Many of those routes you've mentioned aren't loaded because Virgin did come out to the press late last year and say they were canceled:

See the agency memo below:

As for the Tonga and Rarotonga flights they never did very well outside of peak times. Both of these flights were operated by VA NZ crew who were cut so these routes became some of the first to go.

Also quite funny as this thread seems to have been picked up by Andrew from Simple Flying, who's basically written his article based on some of the posts from this thread.

FYI the request to the ACCC for authorisation to coperate was in October 2020, so after these announcements.

Chances are that Virgin and Alliance took the opportunity to bundle as many routes into the authorisation for re-startup in the short, medium or long term so they can the entire route network they would potentially want in one go.

In reality once flights are bookable, and you've on the plane and taken off ... you are then at that stage sure the flight is happening.
 

PineappleSkip

Established Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2007
Messages
1,873
Points
580
Qantas
Platinum
Virgin
Red
VA had always been using Alliance for the POM route
When DJ first started the route, about 2010 when I was based in POM, they were using their own 737s.

It was very much welcomed then, because QF fares were a gouge, and PX not much better. QF only had codeshare seats on PX metal, and DJ was also a much superior experience than PX. Of course, QF immediately almost matched the VA fares and it seems they never managed to claw much trade away. QF starting to operate their own aircraft BNE-POM wouldn't have helped.

cheers skip
 

openseat

Active Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2006
Messages
710
Points
300
VA had always been using Alliance for the POM route and they included it in the October 2020 application so that this could continue.
I flew on VA 737 to POM a number of times. Alliance only took over, IIRC, in 2018.

My concern is for Honiara. If Solomon Airlines are the only airline flying, the prices will go through the roof. I wonder if the mysterious co-payments will return to keep the 35% load factors.
 

AIRwin

Established Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2013
Messages
4,171
Solutions
6
Points
700
Qantas
Gold
Virgin
Gold
I flew on VA 737 to POM a number of times. Alliance only took over, IIRC, in 2018.
It was in February 2019:
 
Top