Virgin Australia will bring back its seasonal flights from Newcastle to Auckland, despite filling just 54% of seats on the route last summer. In fact, Virgin Australia has announced a three-year deal with Newcastle Airport that will see the seasonal route running each summer until at least 2022.
Virgin ran direct flights between Newcastle and Auckland for 13 weeks over last summer. The flights ran three times per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays using Boeing 737-800s. This was the first time Newcastle Airport had international flights since 2002.
Next summer, Virgin Australia will retain the same schedule for its Newcastle-Auckland flights. They will run from 21 November 2019 until 16 February 2020.
Newcastle Airport’s CEO had described the Auckland flights as a “great success across a range of measures”. Yet, most flights were around half-full according to BITRE data. Over the 4 months it operated, the Newcastle-Auckland route had passenger load factors of 41%, 49%, 62% and 52% in November, December, January and February respectively.
Nonetheless, load factors don’t always tell the full story about a route’s profitability. It’s possible that Virgin also carried valuable freight on the route or that passenger yields (the price paid per ticket) were high. It’s also likely that some subsidies or incentives are being provided to Virgin.
It is estimated that the flights delivered around $5.4 million in economic benefits to the Newcastle and Hunter region, which is definitely positive. The direct service also provides a much more convenient option for Newcastle residents that which to travel to New Zealand, and vice versa.
If you’re interested in booking a seat, Virgin’s pricing in the Auckland-Newcastle route is currently very sharp! Yesterday, return Economy tickets were available for just $295 return. Like all of Virgin’s trans-Tasman fares, this includes baggage, in-flight entertainment and a meal. Business class fares started at $695 return.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Newcatle to Auckland – New 3 Year Deal