Virgin Australia says it will take a more pragmatic approach to scale up its operations both here in Australia and as part of the Federal Government’s support for international readiness and will hold back restarting its trans-Tasman flights until later this year.
In a media release sent after the April 19 bubble go date announcement today, the now Bain Capital owned Virgin Australia said that New Zealand remains a key part of their short-haul international network and ‘we look forward to re-entering the Trans-Tasman market later this year.’
Virgin Australia suspended its scheduled New Zealand services in March 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19 before going into voluntary administration shortly afterwards in April 2020.
Speaking about their decision, a Virgin Australia Group spokesman said:
“The New Zealand Government’s decision to establish quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand is a step in the right direction and provides a boost of confidence for travellers looking to reunite with family and friends and do business across the Tasman.
“While the airline remains committed to Trans-Tasman flying when the market fully recovers, we are mindful of evolving border requirements which add complexity to our business as we push ahead with plans to grow our core domestic Australia operations.”
Virgin Australia Spokesperson
“For this reason, we have suspended the sale of most New Zealand services until 31 October 2021. A limited schedule for flights to and from Queenstown will remain available for booking from 18 September 2021.
“We are working with Air New Zealand to provide impacted customers with alternative options and will be contacting them directly. In all cases, options to select new travel dates or obtain a refund to the original form of payment are being made available.”
Air New Zealand announced today that from Monday, April 19, the national carrier will be ramping up flights between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown and eight of its Australian ports.
Air New Zealand says it has been preparing for a trans-Tasman bubble for a few months now, bringing furloughed crew back onboard and ensuring they are up to speed with training, along with making sure its international airports and lounges are ready for the influx of customers.
Both Qantas and Jetstar also announced a commitment to restart their trans-Tasman network by flying to all pre-COVID destinations in New Zealand when the two-way Trans-Tasman bubble opens on April 19.
Qantas and Jetstar will initially operate up to 122 return flights per week across the Tasman on 15 routes, offering more than 52,000 seats each week. Plus they’ve announced two new routes; Auckland – Cairns and the Gold Coast.
As part of the existing one-way bubble, the Qantas Group has been operating less than 3 per cent of its pre-COVID capacity on the Trans-Tasman.
Qantas said that the flights announced today will see this increase to 83 per cent – a level that the Qantas Group says reflects a high level of expected demand for what will be Australia’s only international destination for at least the next six months.
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