Virgin Australia is expected to remain a predominantly domestic airline, with the exception of short overseas trips such as New Zealand, Fiji and Bali, for at least several years – and no, these Boeing 777s are do not come back either.
Bain Capital has ditched Virgin’s long-range Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s as part of a sweeping ‘rescue, downsize and restart’ plan that has seen the airline focus almost exclusively – and , no doubt, so far with great success – in the domestic market.
And if Virgin still has a few Boeing 777s, which have remained parked at parked at Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba, 130km west of Virgin’s Brisbane base, an airline spokesman reiterated to Executive Traveler he has no near-term plans to resume long-haul flights, and certainly not with the fuel-guzzling 777s.
This includes the Boeing 777 which flew from Wellcamp to Brisbane this week, fueling speculation that it will be the centerpiece of an upcoming event. at virginBrisbane hanger “to celebrate a new era of flight”, the airline teasing him as “one of the most exciting and unique aviation events of 2022.”
Executive Traveler includes this Boeing 777, which belongs to the American company UMF Bank, remains for sale and its 25 minute flight is a requirement to keep the jet salable.
Partner airlines fill the void
In an interim split pricing clearance on Virgin Australia and United Airlines under their new partnership launched on May 24, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also noted that Virgin Australia “does not currently operate any long- courier and it is unlikely that he will”. in the short and medium term, because it does not have access to the large carriers necessary to start operating these services.
United Airlines is of course filling that gap, with flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as Sydney to Houston, either underway or soon to resume.
The Star Alliance member replaces Delta Air Lines as Virgin’s US partner – Delta has since announced its own alliance with Regional Express – while Virgin’s new ally Qatar Airways also waits in the wings.
“The ACCC’s preliminary view is that this proposed codeshare agreement with United Airlines is likely to result in a public benefit as it will assist Virgin Australia in restoring its international network,” the Commissioner noted. ACCC, Stephen Ridgeway, in granting interim approval.
“Currently it appears that Virgin Australia is unable to operate its own international short-haul long-haul services.”
“These arrangements are unlikely to reduce competition as there is no operational overlap on the routes between Virgin Australia and United Airlines and there are other airlines operating on the routes.”
A matter of whendo not if
Virgin has always insisted it will resume long-haul international flights when demand on its key routes returns, saying “long-haul international operations are an important part of Virgin Australia’s business” but would not resume until the global travel market has recovered – a process that is still in its infancy.
“We are really looking forward to restarting (long-haul international flights) focusing mainly on Japan and the United States,” CEO Jayne Hrdlicka remarked in April 2021.
In September 2021s The Virgin Australia spokesperson said Executive Traveler “We remain in discussion with aircraft manufacturers on a fleet strategy to support the reintroduction of widebody services when demand for long-haul international travel returns.”
However, the pact with United Airlines has fueled speculation that Virgin could to stay out of the game at long range; Virgin’s alliance with ANA could replicate the partnership model for flights to Japan.
Former Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah, who helped bring the airline out of administration in 2020 before Hrdlicka took over the baton, previously launched a ‘widebody fleet review’ in a bid to replacing the A330 and B777 with a single aircraft type – either the Airbus A350 or the Boeing 787 – citing “significant cost savings from next-generation aircraft”.
“We did a lot of pre-administrative work to replace these two types of aircraft with a more efficient and newer version of a jumbo jet,” Scurrah explained during a press conference in August 2020.
“We are having discussions with aircraft manufacturers but there will also be leasing opportunities for us, and maybe we will go directly to the final solution or we will have a temporary leasing solution,” he admitted.