Virgin Australia (VA), in collaboration with Air New Zealand (NZ), has today initiated a significant move towards re-establishing their trans-Tasman network by submitting a joint application to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the New Zealand Ministry of Transport for a comprehensive VA/NZ codeshare agreement.
If given the green light for take-off, the strategic codeshare partnership would offer Virgin Australia’s customers seamless access to New Zealand destinations, including Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.
It’d also see the reformation of a relationship that began in 2010 and ended in 2018 after Air New Zealand pulled out of the partnership when regulatory approval for the strategic alliance expired.
At the time, Air New Zealand’s exit from the partnership was officially down to “changes to the market dynamics.” However, it was rumoured more as a disagreement with Virgin Australia’s then-CEO, John Borghetti.
Indeed, Virgin Australia continued to operate its flight schedule to New Zealand until 2020, when the pandemic forced its closure in March. In April 2020, VA went into administration.
A new era of codeshare collaboration
Today, It’s a whole new world of opportunity with Virgin Australia under new ownership, new leadership for both airlines and a post-pandemic need and opportunity for more trans-Tasman capacity and commercial collaboration than ever.
In a detailed statement, Virgin Australia expressed that the successful implementation of this agreement would significantly enhance its service offerings.
Customers would be granted direct access to flights operated by Air New Zealand, expanding travel options and capacity across the Tasman. Moreover, the agreement is poised to benefit Velocity Frequent Flyer program members. It offers them opportunities to accrue and redeem points on these routes and access exclusive lounges for eligible members on trans-Tasman flights.
Alistair Hartley, Virgin Australia’s Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, highlighted the complementary nature of this agreement to Virgin Australia’s existing direct services to Queenstown, saying, “This codeshare agreement would complement Virgin Australia’s popular direct Queenstown services by expanding our trans-Tasman footprint with a world-class partner airline our customers know and love.
“New Zealand is the most popular overseas destination for Australian travellers, making this a great addition to our international network offering,” he said.
Air NZ Chief Transformation and Alliances Officer Mike Williams said, “Air New Zealand is looking forward to welcoming Virgin Australia’s customers onboard and to help them discover more of our beautiful country.”
Air New Zealand also has a codeshare relationship with Qantas on selected flights within each other’s domestic networks when travelling as part of a wider journey.
Trans-Tasman capacity could be about to get a whole lot more interesting in 2024.
More to follow.
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