Virgin Australia to Introduce A330 on Brisbane – Perth Link

Virgin Australia has confirmed plans to introduce its two-class Airbus A330-200 widebodied jet on the domestic route between Brisbane and Perth from May 15, 2013 as it continues to develop its ‘Coast to Coast’ service.  The airline will utilise the aircraft on two of its three weekday flights on the route as well a s single weekend rotation, significantly increasing capacity and boosting the offering for travellers.

“Brisbane and Perth are important gateways for the resources and tourism industries and we are continually looking for ways to improve the travel experience between these cities,” said Merren McArthur, Group Executive - Alliances, Network and Yield, Virgin Australia.  “We have listened to our guests and we understand that spacious aircraft, comfortable seating, and inclusive catering and entertainment make a real difference on these longer journeys.”

Virgin Australia first entered this domestic market in January 2003 when its predecessor Virgin Blue Airlines inaugurated daily flights.  A second daily rotation was introduced on the route in June 2008 with the third weekday rotation following from July 2011.  The flights are currently operated using Boeing 737s and the third weekday rotation will continue to be flown with the type.

“Brisbane and Perth are important gateways for the resources and tourism industries and we are continually looking for ways to improve the travel experience between these cities.”

Merren McArthur
Group Executive - Alliances, Network and Yield, Virgin Australia

The carrier competes directly with Australian national carrier Qantas and its low-cost business division Jetstar Airways, a relative newcomer to the market, introducing flights in December 2010.  In the last year an estimated 741,000 bi-directional O&D passengers travelled between Brisbane and Perth.  Virgin Australia had a 24.5 per cent share of this market, significantly below the 55.9 per cent of market leader, Qantas.  The arrival of the A330 and increased capacity offering will help Virgin Australia increase its traffic, while its enhanced inflight offering will enable it to better compete with its rival.  In the past year the Brisbane – Perth city pair was the 18th largest O&D domestic market within the Virgin Australia network.

Elsewhere in the domestic market, Virgin Australia has announced it will introduce direct flights between Brisbane and Moranbah in regional Queensland from April 2, 2013.  Subject to regulatory approval, the carrier will initially introduce two rotations every weekday, increasing to three from April 15, 2013.  A single flight will also be operated on Sundays.  All will be flown using an ATR 72 turboprop.

“Moranbah is situated in the heart of the Bowen Basin and we are pleased to be supporting both the local community and the resources industry by bringing much needed competition to this market,” said McArthur.  “Travellers will now have more options for flights between Brisbane and Moranbah and we will continue to look for more opportunities to expand in regional Queensland.”

The Brisbane – Moranbah market is presently only served by Sunstate Airlines which offers around eleven flights per day for Qantas using Bomardier Dash 8 equipment, mainly Dash 8-Q400s.  In the last year approximately 168,000 bi-directional O&D passengers travelled between the two Australian cities.

Virgin Australia launched operations with its ATR 72 turboprops in October 2011 and since then it has been expanding its operations throughout regional Queensland.  The type is currently used on 19 city pairs covering eleven different destinations in the country.  These include existing flights from Brisbane to Emerald, Gladstone, Port Macquarie and Rockhampton.

In the table below we look in more detail at the Australian domestic market and highlight the changing marketshare of the country’s current top five domestic airlines over the four year period between 2008 and 2011.  The analysis shows the overall Australian domestic O&D market grew 4.8 per cent between 2008 and 2011.  Over the course of these four years, market leader Qantas has seen its share of the traffic decline by 4.1 percentage points, but this has been more than offset by the growth of its low-cost business arm Jetstar Airways which has seen a 5.0 percentage point rise.  After increasing to a 29.0 per cent marketshare in 2010, Virgin Australia slipped to 26.3 per cent in 2011, only 5.1 percentage points more than the emerging Jetstar Airways.

ESTIMATED O&D DOMESTIC TRAFFIC IN AUSTRALIA (bi-directional O&D passengers; 12 months to November 2012)

Rank

Airline

Passengers

Marketshare (2011)

Marketshare (2010)

Marketshare (2009)

Marketshare (2008)

1

Qantas (QF)

20,852,381

42.1 %

42.4 %

45.2 %

46.2 %

2

Virgin Australia (DJ)

13,036,258

26.3 %

29.0 %

27.6 %

28.4 %

3

Jetstar Airways (JQ)

10,508,265

21.2 %

19.2 %

17.4 %

16.2 %

4

Tiger Airways Australia (TT)

1,985,637

4.0 %

4.7 %

3.1 %

2.1 %

5

Regional Express (ZL)

1,271,231

2.6 %

2.5 %

3.7 %

3.8 %

DEMAND TOTAL

49,495,077

48,903,062

45,125,037

47,211,634