Virgin Australia has announced that it will increase services between Brisbane and Los Angeles, moving from four return services per week to a daily schedule, effective October 26, 2014. However, to achieve this, the carrier will cease services between Melbourne and Los Angeles, with the last flight operating from Melbourne on October 25, 2014.
Following this change, the Virgin Australia and Delta Air Lines trans-Pacific joint venture will offer two daily services between Sydney and Los Angeles and one daily service between Brisbane and Los Angeles. The additional Brisbane services will be flown by one of Virgin Australia’s three-class Boeing 777s.
Virgin Australia first launched services between Brisbane and Los Angeles in April 2009 and is the airport’s largest airline partner, contributing over one million international passengers annually to the facility. According to Julieanne Alroe, chief executive officer and managing director of Brisbane Airport Corporation, the new schedule “is testament to the growth of the Queensland market and the strength of Brisbane as an international gateway for Australia.”
The expanded Brisbane schedule will boost capacity on the route by 2,166 seats a week and will support the growing demand for connectivity to North America from Queensland. North America is actually Queensland’s third largest tourism market and the increase in services support the 4.2 per cent increase in passenger numbers experienced in 2013.
As part of its network changes, there will also be a minor change to the departure time of the carrier’s Sydney to Los Angeles flights from October 26, 2014 to allow an earlier arrival into Los Angeles, creating what the airline believes will be a more convenient schedule for corporate and leisure travellers.
The new schedule will mean there will be no reduction in Virgin Australia’s capacity between Australia and the United States, but it will better align its services with those of its partner Delta Air Lines. “We work closely with our alliance partner Delta Air Lines to review our trans-Pacific services and ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers and our commercial objectives,” explained Judith Compton, chief commercial officer, Virgin Australia.
“The changes are a result of extensive market analysis. Having the right frequency is very important to corporate and leisure customers and moving to daily flights from Brisbane enables us to provide more choice and flexibility to those travelling to and from Queensland,” she added.
According to research from Roy Morgan, Virgin Australia finished last year with the highest customer satisfaction levels of all airlines operating between Australia and the United States, which clearly helps it to compete with the likes of Qantas and United Airlines which also operate transpacific flights between Australia and the US mainland.
In the analysis, below, we look at the largest carriers in the Australia - US market over the past five years. Total O&D demand between the two countries has risen 31.0 per cent during that period, with growth of 6.4 per cent being recorded between 2012 and 2013. Qantas has seen its own share of the traffic decline 7.0 percentage points across the five years due to growth of Virgin Australia and major network expansion in this market by Hawaiian Airlines, but it remains by far the largest airline between the two countries by passenger demand.