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Virgin Australia responds to alliance split with new routes and increased services

Posted: 16 April 2018 1:38 pm
New Zealand countryside

What you need to know about travelling to New Zealand after 27 October on Virgin.

In the wake of news that Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand would not be renewing their codeshare alliance from 27 October, Virgin Australia has announced it will be moving forward with two new Australia to New Zealand routes as well as increased services between the two countries.

This comes just a week after Air New Zealand announced a similar resolve for its passengers with its addition of Brisbane to Wellington and Brisbane to Queenstown services on top of a 15% increase in seats across its Trans-Tasman network sparking rivalry in the air.

New routes

While Air New Zealand has chosen to focus its new routes on Brisbane, Virgin Australia's focus is on Sydney and Melbourne with a new Sydney to Wellington and Melbourne to Queenstown service arriving on 28 October.

The Sydney to Wellington flights will operate five times weekly on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays while the Melbourne to Queenstown service will run three-times weekly initially operating on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, increasing to four-times weekly during peak season. The addition of this service will also provide travellers with the first business class seats between the two cities.

"Our entry into the Melbourne-Queenstown market will bring some much needed competition to the premium leisure sector, with Virgin Australia the only airline to offer Business Class on this route," says Virgin Australia Airlines group executive Rob Sharp.

Both new routes will be operated by the Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which features eight business class seats and an economy X section that boasts up to 40% more legroom and priority boarding.

In comparison, Air New Zealand currently operates both services, with direct Melbourne to Queenstown flights available three times weekly on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and direct Sydney to Wellington flights daily.

While Virgin Australia's new Melbourne to Queenstown services compliment Air New Zealand's, doubling up only on Friday, competition is set to be rife for business along the Sydney to Wellington route with both airlines trying to dominate with near-daily flights.

Flight increases

From 28 October, Virgin Australia will also increase flights along its Sydney to Auckland, Melbourne to Auckland and Brisbane to Auckland routes to at least twice daily. Flights from Sydney and Brisbane will increase to triple daily on peak days.

It's not all good news for travellers though as the airline is offsetting some of its route increases by decreasing select services to its other cities. This includes Melbourne to Christchurch which currently operates 11 times weekly, down to 7 by the end of October. Brisbane to Wellington flights also get hit with flights decreasing from 14 times weekly to 9 times weekly.

Flights will be available to book from 19 February 2018 via the official Virgin Australia website and be eligible for Velocity Points. A full list of new and increased routes and times is below.

Melbourne-Queenstown (new)

RouteFlight numberDays of serviceDeparture/arrival times
Melbourne-QueenstownVA189Monday, Wednesday, Friday9:45am / 2:55pm
Queenstown-MelbourneVA188Monday, Wednesday, Friday3:45pm / 5:20pm

Sydney-Wellington (new)

RouteFlight numberDays of serviceDeparture/arrival times
Sydney-WellingtonVA171Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday9:30am / 2:45pm (M,T,Th,F), 7:45am-1pm (Sunday only)
Wellington-SydneyVA170Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday7am / 8:45am
Wellington-SydneyVA172Sunday1:45pm / 3:30pm

Auckland-Brisbane (increased)

RouteDays of serviceDeparture/arrival times
Auckland-BrisbaneDaily7am/7:45am, 6pm-6:40pm (except Saturday), 9:35-10:15pm (Friday only)
Brisbane-AucklandDaily9:30am-3:45pm, 6:40pm-00:55am (except Saturday), 6:10am-12:25pm (Friday only)

Auckland-Melbourne (increased)

RouteDays of serviceDeparture/arrival times
Auckland-MelbourneDaily6:30am-8:40am, 4pm-6:10pm
Melbourne-AucklandDaily9:30am-3:10pm, 6:55pm-00:35am

Auckland-Sydney (increased)

RouteDays of serviceDeparture/arrival times
Auckland-SydneyDaily7:30am-9:15am, 4pm-5:45pm, 1:15pm-3pm (weekdays only)
Sydney-AucklandDaily10am-3:05pm, 6:30pm-11:35pm, 3:45pm-8:50pm (weekdays only)

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