Update: we've got first pics and full details on Virgin Australia's lie-flat business class seats on its new Airbus A330s.
Virgin Australia will expand its Airbus A330-based 'Coast to Coast' service to flights between Melbourne and Perth from May 14, as well as adding a daily A330 'morning peak hour' service between Melbourne and Sydney.
The airline says its Melbourne-Perth A330 flights will run twice each day, departing Melbourne at 1pm and 5.30pm for arrival into Perth at 3.15pm and 7.45pm (local Perth time).
Return flights from Perth depart at 8.30am and 5.30pm, arriving in Melbourne at 1.45pm and 10.45pm (local Melbourne time).
The morning shuttle between Melbourne and Sydney will commence on May 15, departing Melbourne at 7.15am and arriving into Sydney at 8.40am. The return service will depart Sydney at 10.00am local Sydney time, arriving Melbourne at 11.35am.
The A330 is the big gun of Virgin Australia's domestic fleet, carrying 278 passengers compared to around 180 on the Boeing 737-800 which currently plies the Melbourne-Perth route (and remains the workhorse of domestic services).
It also has more than three times the number of business class seats as the 737 – and these are more akin to international-grade seats than domestic business class seats due to the greater leg room, deeper recline and more comfortable design, all of which are major factors in making the trans-continental trek.
The flights will be served by two new Airbus A330s with a revised 2-2-2 seating layout which drops the much-hated middle seat from the business class cabin, compared to the 2-3-2 of Virgin's first two A330s.
Tickets for both the Melbourne-Perth and Melbourne-Sydney A330 services go on sale today, with introductory fares starting from $99 (one way) from Melbourne to Sydney and $195 (one way) from Melbourne to Perth.
"With our new wide-body services, our premium Business and Economy Class offering and our designer lounge at Melbourne Domestic Airport, we are confident that Virgin Australia will be the airline of choice for the Melbourne market" said Liz Savage, Virgin Australia's Group Executive of Commercial.