Virgin Australia continues to rebuild its domestic network with a welcome focus on city pairs outside Australia’s Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne triangle. In the last week, Virgin Australia has rolled out three new routes and announced the restart of a former popular leisure route.
Virgin Australia announced three new routes last week centred on the Gold Coast. Photo: Getty Images
The three new routes all operate out of the Coolangatta’s Gold Coast Airport (OOL). Starting in December, Virgin Australia will begin flying Gold Coast – Cairns (CNS), Gold Coast – Launceston (LST), and Gold Coast – Hobart (HBA).
Two of these flights operate into Tasmania, a state where Virgin Australia is now making strong inroads after years of benign neglect.
“Virgin Australia recognises there’s a growing demand and increasing confidence to travel,” said Virgin Australia’s Alistair Hartley.“The new direct services will allow for over 19,000 extra passengers each month.”
Also, in December, Virgin Australia is rebooting its Adelaide (ADL) – Sunshine Coast (MCY) flights, last flown in early 2020. The new and resuming flights represent a return to form for Australia’s second-biggest airline.
Virgin Australia takes on Jetstar flying between Cairns & the Gold Coast
Commencing Thursday, December 9, Virgin Australia will begin flying Gold Coast – Cairns – Gold Coast every day. For years, this route linking Queensland’s two biggest tourist cities was left to Jetstar.
Now VA1057 will depart the Gold Coast at 08:30 every morning and fly north to Cairns, landing there at 11:00. It will take two and a half hours to cover the 920 miles (1,481 kilometers) between the two cities.
The return flight, VA1056, will leave Cairns at 11:40 and arrive back at the Gold Coast at 14:00. All of Virgin Australia’s flights are now operated by two-class Boeing 737-800s.
“Over a hundred and twenty thousand passengers fly between the Gold Coast and Cairns per year,” Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Richard Barker said.
“Subject to border restrictions easing soon, Virgin Australia will operate 53% more seats to and from Cairns in December this year versus December 2019. That’s a great testament to their commitment to serve tropical North Queensland and rebuild after the past eighteen months.”
Launceston Airport gets a new city-pair thanks to Virgin Australia
Flying in a different direction, Virgin Australia is linking the Gold Coast with both its Tasmanian destinations. Flights to Launceston will begin on December 7, and flights to Hobart will start on December 13. Notably, the service to Launceston will be the first nonstop flights linking the two cities in more than two decades.
Virgin Australia has lavished the northern Tasmanian city of 123,600 people with some love lately, also adding several flights a week from Perth and Adelaide.
Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from December 7, VA1550 will push back from the Gold Coast and take off for Launceston at 14:40, arriving there at 18:20. It takes two hours and 40 minutes to cover the 992 miles (1,597 kilometers).
The return flight, VA1551, will leave Launceston at 19:00 on the same days and arrive back at the Gold Coast at 20:25.
“We are experiencing tremendous growth thanks to our state’s ability to remain COVID-free, which benefits locals and gives our tourism sector a chance to recover before most other parts of the country,” says Launceston Airport’s CEO Shane O’Hare.
“Virgin’s Gold Coast service comes hot off the heels of its new Adelaide route and Perth announcement, proving there’s strong market demand for inbound and outbound travel. Many locals have holiday homes on the Gold Coast in addition to personal ties, which we expect will boost bookings over summer.”
Virgin Australia will connect Launceston Airport (pictured) to the Gold Coast for the first time in more than two decades. Photo: Launceston Airport
Virgin Australia adds another city to its Hobart departures board
Also seeing a new Virgin Australia service is Tasmania’s capital, Hobart. The Gold Coast will be the sixth city listed on Virgin Australia’s departures board at Hobart. Before COVID-19, Virgin Australia flew to just three destinations from Hobart.
Commencing December 13, Virgin Australia will fly between the Gold Coast and Hobart every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. VA1514 will depart the Gold at 14:40 and fly south for two hours and 45 minutes, landing in Hobart at 18:25.
After 45 minutes on the ground, VA1513 will leave Hobart at 19:10 and land at the Gold Coast at 20:45. The flying distance between the two cities is 1,066 miles (1,715 kilometers).
“For Tasmania, never before has Virgin Australia operated to this many mainland ports from the Apple Isle. Since September, we have announced six new routes to Tasmania, providing a significant boost to local tourism and over 28000 additional seats each month,” says Mr Hartley.
Now defunct Tigerair Australia offered flights between the Gold Coast and Hobart. Jetstar filled the vacuum and had the city pair to itself until Virgin Australia moves onto the route in December.
A Virgin Australia flight landing in Hobart. Photo: Getty Images
Virgin Australia to resume flying between Adelaide & Maroochydore
Last but not least, Virgin Australia is resuming flights between Adelaide and the Sunshine Coast Airport at Maroochydore. The flights will resume on December 14, operate four times a week, and offer 5,632 seats a month. Jetstar is the only existing competitor on this route.
Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from the December restart date, VA1647 will depart Adelaide at 13:30 and scoot across to Maroochydore, landing there at 15:45. It takes two hours and 45 minutes to cover the 1,038 miles (1,670 kilometers).
The return flight, VA1648, leaves Maroochydore at 16:25 and lands back in Adelaide at 19:40. Virgin Australia formerly flew this route, but it was a casualty of COVID-19, border closures, and a scaling down of the airline’s network.
What’s not to like about direct flights to the Sunshine Coast (pictured)? Photo: Virgin Australia
“We’re looking forward to connecting more passengers between Sunshine Coast and Adelaide each week, and the decision from Virgin to extend the route year-round is a strong vote of confidence in our region for both leisure and business travel,” said Sunshine Coast Airport CEO, Andrew Brodie.
“These Virgin services provide more choice and frequency for passengers, and we believe by building more connections like these our region will emerge strongly from the effects of COVID-19.”
Virgin Australia is being relatively aggressive these days rebuilding its network, what routes do you think they will add next? Post a comment and let us know.
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