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Virgin Australia extends delay for return of international routes

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Virgin Australia extends delay for return of international routes

The recently relaunched Virgin Australia has made a significant announcement regarding its much-anticipated return to international flight operations, which currently sits idle due to the ongoing closure of Australia’s borders and the effect COVID-19 has had on international travel. Now the Australian carrier has revealed that it will be once again delaying its return to a once extensive international flight network.

In 2019, Virgin Australia was Australia’s second-largest international airline with a large network of routes in the Pacific, Asia and North America. The carrier also has a fleet of 80 two-class Boeing 737-800 aircraft for short-haul international routes. The airline also boasted a dedicated widebody fleet, consisting of six Airbus A330-200’s and five Boeing 777-300ER’s for long-haul international routes to destinations such Nadi, Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

However, as a result of Australia’s strict lock-down and the airline’s mismanagement past; Virgin Australia was placed into voluntary administration in April 2020. By August 2020, the decision was made to wind up Virgin Australia’s dedicated international division and return its wide-body aircraft to their respective lessors, in addition to some Boeing 737 aircraft

Since March of last year, Virgin Australia’s international operations have been restricted to a few sporadic repatriation flights to destinations in the Pacific such as Tongatapu and Apia. Despite the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble in April, Virgin Australia did not jump at the opportunity to resume international flights.

While other carriers such as Air New Zealand and Qantas began recommencing flights, Virgin Australia stated that “its aim to focus on domestic operations in the short-term” and was cited as the main reason behind the decision. Meanwhile, Virgin Australia has remained optimistic about the resumption of its international services with the airline’s CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka stating it will be “of the first things the airline does” post-Covid.

Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800
Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 registered VH-YIT departing Auckland Airport. Photo by Ernest Leung | AeroNewsX.

In a statement published on Friday, Virgin Australia outlined the future regarding its international operations, stating that it had decided to push back the resumption of most of its international routes, including to destinations such as Fiji and Bali until at least December 2021.

The carrier cited the Australian government’s renewed forecast regarding Australia’s borders as the reason for the decision. The announcement also outlined that Virgin Australia would not be restarting most of its New Zealand destinations for the foreseeable future, leaving the trans-Tasman market to Jetstar, Qantas and Air New Zealand.

In April 2021, Virgin Australia originally forecasted the return of its Queenstown, New Zealand service from September 18th, 2021, followed by the remainder of its New Zealand network on October 31st, 2021. However, today these dates have been pushed back even further, with the airline’s return to other New Zealand destinations except its Queenstown route being postponed indefinitely.

In addition, the airline will delay the resumption of its Melbourne to Queenstown service until December 7th, 2021. However, its Brisbane and Sydney to Queenstown flights will still go ahead in September. Virgin Australia stated that this is due to “subdued demand in the trans-Tasman market, despite the recent establishment of the trans-Tasman bubble.”

According to a spokesperson from Virgin Australia, the airline sees the new forecast dates as “realistic.” Earlier this week, the Australian Government announced that the country’s borders would probably not fully reopen until mid-2022 due to delays in the vaccine rollout. A spokesperson for Virgin Australia also added that the airline remains committed to reviewing changes to its short-haul international network and can shift the resumption dates forward if demand returns more quickly than expected.

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Source: https://aeronewsx.com/virgin-australia-further-delays-return-to-international-routes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=virgin-australia-further-delays-return-to-international-routes

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