Virgin Australia boosts domestic leisure flying

Two new routes will be launched alongside frequency additions on a further 18 services.

Virgin Australia is increasing its domestic network ahead of the Easter holiday season, with CEO Jayne Hrdlicka (pictured right) calling on people to consider traveling again. 

New direct services between Adelaide (ADL)-Sunshine Coast (MCY) and Melbourne (MEL)-Ballina Byron (BNK) will initially operate from March 29 to April 25. However, the routes are likely to be extended beyond the Easter period subject to easing border restrictions.

Operated by Boeing 737 aircraft, the flights will add more than 13,000 seats across 37 return flights to the airline’s network. ADL-MCY will be served 4X-weekly, while MEL-BNK will receive up to 6X-weekly flights.

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In addition, Virgin plans to increase frequencies on 18 existing routes to key leisure destination such as Cairns, Hamilton Island, Whitsunday Coast and the Gold Coast.

“We have all worked hard to get to a place where we can enjoy these travel opportunities once again, with the added benefit of supporting vital jobs in our tourism destinations,” Hrdlicka said.

“Our flexible flying policy gives confidence for travelers planning ahead these Easter school holidays, and the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine adds to the positive momentum around us. There’s a lot to look forward to this Easter.”

Virgin, which emerged from voluntary administration last November with a new hybrid strategy, said its focus has shifted to rebuilding domestic capacity after pushing back its target for resuming short-haul international flights.

The carrier had previously scheduled flights to New Zealand to begin on March 28. However, ticket sales have since been withdrawn for all short-haul international services until at least June 19.

With the launch of ADL-MCY and MEL-BNK, Virgin will compete head-to-head with Qantas subsidiary Jetstar Airways, which has long been the sole operator of both routes. During April, Jetstar is currently scheduled to serve ADL-MCY 3X-weekly alongside daily MEL-BNK flights.

Photo credit: Virgin Australia