Just days after Qantas announced further cuts to international flights until September, Virgin Australia has revealed more flight reductions of its own. Among the changes, Virgin Australia will temporarily reduce flights to Japan, Los Angeles and New Zealand, and permanently axe its two fifth-freedom international routes. Frequencies on some domestic routes will also be reduced until June.
But Virgin’s flight cuts are not quite as extensive as those made by Qantas. As Virgin Australia is predominantly a domestic airline, it is not as badly affected by the falling demand for international travel as Qantas.
“As a largely domestic airline, we are less exposed to the impact on international travel, however we remain disciplined in our focus on managing capacity in response to forward bookings and continuing to reduce costs across the business,” Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah said.
“It’s worth noting that domestic operations account for 88 per cent of our passengers and 78 per cent of our flight revenue.”
Virgin Australia international flight reductions
The following Virgin Australia international routes are affected by yesterday’s announcement, which comes in addition to previously-announced reductions:
- Brisbane-Tokyo reduced from daily to 3x weekly from 29 March until 3 May 2020
- Sydney-Los Angeles reduced from daily to 5x weekly from May until early June 2020
- Melbourne-Auckland permanently reduced from 2x daily to daily from May
- Frequencies on Sydney-Auckland temporarily reduced
Virgin Australia has announced the reductions to its Brisbane-Tokyo route before it has even launched. When Virgin applied for a Haneda slot last year, it went to great effort to assure regulators that it could be relied on to operate daily flights. However, the coronavirus outbreak could not have been predicted.
Qantas is also reducing capacity on its Sydney-Tokyo route from 29 March 2020 – but by putting a smaller aircraft on the route, rather than cutting frequency. Virgin doesn’t have this luxury because the Airbus A330-200 is already the smallest aircraft in its fleet capable of flying non-stop from Australia to Japan.
Auckland-Rarotonga and Auckland-Tonga axed
Virgin Australia will permanently withdraw from its two routes from Auckland to Pacific Island destinations:
- Auckland to Nuku’alofa, Tonga will end on 1 May 2020
- Auckland to Rarotonga, Cook Islands will end on 21 July 2020
Virgin Australia will still fly from Sydney to Tonga twice per week, but this will mark the end of Virgin Australia service to Rarotonga. Trips from Australia to Rarotonga via Auckland have long been a popular Virgin Australia status run.
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