Virgin Australia will double the number of domestic flights being operated from early July as domestic travel restrictions slowly start to be relaxed.
From next month there will be more intrastate flights within Queensland and Western Australia. This will provide more options for travel within the two states during the July school holidays. There will also be more flights between Perth and the east coast of Australia, and Virgin will reinstate services on the Brisbane-Canberra & Brisbane-Adelaide routes. This is despite the fact that Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia borders remain closed.
Virgin’s new domestic schedule will add around 320 flights per week compared to the airline’s current limited domestic network. You can see a full list of routes and frequencies on the Virgin Australia website.
The announcement comes after the federal government agreed to continue underwriting Qantas, Virgin and Regional Express domestic flights until 30 September 2020.
Flights are available for sale on the Virgin Australia website, and Virgin travel credits can be used to book one of these services. However, it is still not possible to redeem Velocity points for Virgin Australia flights for travel before 1 September 2020.
Last week, Qantas and Jetstar announced that they will triple their current capacity by early July. Qantas is currently operating just 5% of its normal domestic schedule, but this will increase to 15% by next month. If COVID-19 travel restrictions are eased further, and demand picks up sufficiently, Qantas says that it could resume up to 40% of its normal domestic schedule by the end of July.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: VA’s COVID-19 Minimal Network Schedule.
Virgin Australia’s new COVID-19 health measures
Virgin Australia has also announced a range of new COVID-19 health measures designed to protect passengers and crew during this time. These include:
- A pre-flight health questionnaire that all passengers will be required to complete
- Encouraging passengers to check in online
- Social distancing & hand sanitiser at airports
- A staggered boarding and disembarkation process to maximise social distancing
- Customers encouraged to scan their own boarding passes when boarding flights
- Increased cleaning of aircraft and check-in kiosks
“We will be adopting contactless check-in, a new sequenced boarding and disembarkation process and guests will see more frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces on the aircraft and within the airport. In addition, a new health questionnaire will be rolled out as part of the check-in process to ensure passengers are fit to fly and to assist with contact tracing,” Virgin Australia Medical Officer Dr Sara Souter said.
Virgin will continue to offer reduced catering, with limited complimentary drinks and snacks served and no buy-on-board food available. Virgin says that this is in order to minimise contact between cabin crew and passengers.
Many of these measures are similar to those announced by Qantas as part of its “Fly Well” program. The new Virgin & Qantas measures both come into effect from tomorrow.
While Virgin Australia says that it will try to ensure social distancing on board, it is no longer guaranteeing empty seats between passengers.
“Wherever possible we will try to keep an empty seat between guests travelling alone, however, this may not always be possible. Guests are asked to avoid unnecessary movement around the cabin and avoid gathering in the aisles,” the Virgin Australia website says.
Qantas and Jetstar are also no longer guaranteeing blocked middle seats from tomorrow, but these airlines are providing complimentary face masks to passengers.
Final bids for Virgin Australia due on 22 June
There are two potential buyers left in the race to buy Virgin Australia. Final binding offers were originally to be due tomorrow, but this deadline has now been extended until 22 June.
It comes as Virgin’s administrator pleads for more federal government support amid concerns both Cyrus Capital Partners and Bain Capital could withdraw their offers. On Tuesday, the administrator asked the government to extend JobKeeper payments for Virgin’s 10,000 employees for a further six months and to guarantee the airline’s tickets. There have been some concerns that Virgin Australia could run out of cash before the sale process could be completed.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Virgin Australia Financially Secure? [Now in Voluntary Administration]