Virgin Australia eyes new international routes

Virgin Australia eyes new international routes

Virgin Australia plans to add at least two and "maybe three" new international routes to its network over the next three years, according to airline CEO John Borghetti.

Speaking at the Tourism and Transport Forum Leadership Summit in Canberra yesterday, Borghetti promised that “you will see us fly to more international destinations over the next three years."

“Two (destinations), maybe three, certainly two" Borghetti confirmed, although he declined to name the routes.

Asia has long been favoured to see the next pin on Virgin's network map, with Singapore and Hong Kong the obvious front-runners.

Earlier this year, at a press briefing following Virgin Australia's 2013-2014 financial results, Borghetti confirmed that "at some point in the future we will be operating the (Airbus) A330 internationally."

Virgin's current  international long-range Boeing 777 services are limited to Los Angeles (from Sydney and Brisbane) and Abu Dhabi (from Sydney), with the later being the hub of its partner and stakeholder Etihad Airways.

Closer to home are New Zealand, Bali, Phuket and the Pacific Islands, which are serviced by smaller short-range Boeing 737-800 jets.

Virgin recently took delivery of the last of six orders for the Airbus A330, while Borghetti revealed that he doesn't expect to see the Airbus A350 or Boeing 787 join Virgin's fleet until sometime after 2020, three years beyond an earlier 2017 timeframe.

Read: Virgin Australia pushes back on Airbus A350, Boeing 787 decision

However, there's also the possibility of sharing a single 'bulk order' for either the Airbus A350 or Boeing 787 with partners Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand.

"Could we, would we, talk to our three partners in terms of how we do this together? Within legal bounds, absolutely," Borghetti said.

Read: Virgin Australia mulls 'bulk order' for Airbus A350, Boeing 787

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David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

22 comments

  • S

    S

    30 Oct, 2014 09:28 am

    Interesting. Looks like they'll be adding routes as they cut others.

    I've heard from a couple of people inside Virgin that they'll be handing over some of their international routes to Tiger soon.

    Bali is apparently a definite for handing over to Tiger soon.

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  • riley

    riley

    31 Oct, 2014 03:45 pm

    Makes sense. Not a lot between the B737 and tiger in regards to the Bali offering. 

    I've heard they'll be handing over international routes to partners. Can't quite get my head around how it works. If it's a code-share or a joint operation. Borgetthi's words bove suggest it's something in the ilk of a JV.

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  • sagidec

    sagidec

    30 Oct, 2014 10:29 am

    Might as well hand the leisure routes to Tiger considering there are competitions with low cost carriers on the routes, they're not gonna fill those flights as full as they want to be on a "full service" carrier. Since they serve from Perth to Bali and Phuket, the flight times is just about 5 hours away (can be serviced by Tiger's A320). One can "almost" live without full service offerings.

    International routes, too much competition and overcapacity on Singapore and HK. Might struggle to fill the planes. Time to find new markets...

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  • Rkwm

    Rkwm

    30 Oct, 2014 10:44 am

    That is good news. I am really wishing for Syd Hkg Syd .CX is operating at capacity ,trying to sqeese as many seats in as is possible,even changing aircraft and configerations to accomodate for the demand.I travel this route monthly and would welcome a Virgin Australia offering. I can only hope!

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  • abudhabi1

    abudhabi1

    30 Oct, 2014 10:53 am

    I agree a Virgin Australia offering would be most welcome to HKG ex Sydney.Plane leaves after 1pm on the way up and returns around 10pm coming home.It would have to be an improvement especially for Adelaide connecting passengers over having to leave at 6am or 7am via Sydney or Melbourne with Qantas or the similarly timed nonstops with Cathay Pacific.As a Velocity Member my only other option is Singapore Airlines via Singapore which is something you don't need to add extra transit time for.

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  • Sim1

    Sim1

    30 Oct, 2014 12:17 pm

    There is a rumour floating around that they were looking at Perth-Singapore.

    Singapore could drop one flight a day and Virgin takes over especially with the new Virgin terminal being able to connect international passengers into Perth

    I think Virgin will think outside the box when it does. 

    Aslong as they dont become that other airline where flights only go from Melbourne and Sydney they will win some fans.

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  • abudhabi1

    abudhabi1

    30 Oct, 2014 02:18 pm

    Not a Bad Idea.BA pulled out in 2000,Qantas just recently leaving the WA Market to Singapore Airlines.AN A330 that would otherwise be sitting around in Perth could be used for such a flight.I am from Adelaide but would happily take that option if there is no day option on SQ back to ADL ex Singapore.

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  • Sim1

    Sim1

    30 Oct, 2014 02:37 pm

    I agree.

    Just hope if they did they didnt do what Qantas did to kill it which was to have it flying at odd hours of the day.

    Also its very hard to get VA redemptions on SQ so would be a bonus.

    Recently flew BA wish they returned to Perth. Soooooo many expats here.

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  • Hugo

    Hugo

    31 Oct, 2014 09:18 am

    I dunno, what's Virgin's competitive advantage on this route? Replace a SQ flight with a VA flight and who is this better for? (Apart from the people who want to get Velocity redemptions on this route). Overall most passengers, especially those coming from overseas, will choose a SQ flight over a VA flight where both are available. 

    If I were VA I wouldn't be looking at trying to replicate my own bigger brother's routes but carving out something new. HKG seems to make more sense given that there's no non-oneworld option on this route nowadays, and the potential to connect with Virgin Atlantic onward flights. 

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  • kpkazzie

    kpkazzie

    30 Oct, 2014 01:44 pm

    I highly doubt any airline would, but what are the chances of a seasonal direct flight to Europe? If the 787 or A350 does come from a partner of VA

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  • Fancypants

    Fancypants

    30 Oct, 2014 06:09 pm

    There are curently no Australian carrier flying to Kuala Lumpur. The market is apparently there with Malaysia Airlines monopolising the routes from every major Australian capital city, sometimes 2 or 3 times daily. One has to ask why Australian carriers don't wish to compete with MAS ? Could there be a niche for Virgin Australia to fly to Kuala Lumpur and then code share with Etihad to onwards destinations? 

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  • Chris_PER

    Chris_PER

    30 Oct, 2014 07:26 pm

    Monopolising premium traffic anyway...dont forget Air Asia X.

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  • hutch

    hutch

    31 Oct, 2014 08:46 am

    MAS flies from Australia to their hub. They can then distribute passengers over their network. 

    If VA flies to KL they can only send passengers to AUH, SIN and any other code shares/Interline  they can sign. Not smart business. 

    They would get feed at SIN,  but yields aren't good there atm. 

    HKG has similar story to KL. Onward feed to London,  but no where else. Unless they do code share with CX for onward destinations from HKG.  If they can get a codeshare with CX,  HKG would work. 

    Left field? Use A330 PER to AUH and use the 777 to start AUS to SFO?  

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  • Hugo

    Hugo

    31 Oct, 2014 09:24 am

    Austin to San Francisco? (Yes, yes, I know what you mean...)

    Much as I personally would like to see someone other than United fly to SFO (I do this route a couple of times a year and always bounce off Auckland) it seems like the economics of flying to SFO don't work out unless you're a Star Alliance airline and can take advantage of SFO's huge United hub. Virgin America may have its hub at SFO but it's just not big enough an airline.

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  • Dave Thomas

    deethom

    31 Oct, 2014 03:28 pm

    There is one glowing departure, destination that seems to have been missed, VA flying BNE to NRT return, a route that is not serviced by any airline. Sure, OOL has JQ going to NRT, but I know a lot of Sunshine Coast people who are not into a 4 hr drive, and travel via SYD on JAL or QF.

    Agree any services into Asia from Perth would have to be a plus.

    Cheers, Dee.

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  • ROBERT SMITH

    trainyou888

    31 Oct, 2014 03:40 pm

    We live at the Gold Coast fly to and from Hong Kong every year for at least a couple of weeks. Our next trip in January as usual we have to travel to Brisbane to catch our flight staying at a hotel the night before. It would be wonderful to have a Gold Coast [Coolangatta] - Hong Kong service especially with reasonable Business Class seats. Bring it on please Virgin! Stay healthy, Rob

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  • riley

    riley

    31 Oct, 2014 03:53 pm

    That's ambitious! 

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  • Jason Drummond

    jasondrummond

    31 Oct, 2014 07:24 pm

    Hi Rob,

    As a fellow Gold Coaster I would love that too. Can't quite see that happening, A VA flight out of BNE would be nice to HK.

    I'd be happy just to get those Business Class seats on OOL to AKL and see the ditching of Premium Economy.

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  • Andrew Gunn

    _andrewgunn_

    1 Nov, 2014 09:12 am

    Oh please add hong kong!

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  • E K

    imxpnsv

    3 Nov, 2014 09:24 am

    VA, please add Hong Kong and Seoul. What is the point of connecting a destination which currently served by your partner airline SQ and EY. People will prefer to fly to Singapore with SQ rather than VA in anyways unless they want to redeem their Velocity points. Please fly to HKG and connect with Virgin Atlantic/America and get some market share from One World's hub. And go to Seoul make a partnership with Korean Air/Asiana Air to link other surrounding Chinese and Japanese cities.

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  • Grant Williams

    gwilli1

    3 Nov, 2014 03:46 pm

    Give me anywhere in Japan . Huge opportunity to break down a totally OW dominent route ex AUS with QF, JL & JQ. 

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  • riley

    riley

    3 Nov, 2014 04:01 pm

    If I were a betting man, which I am, I'd be putting my money on Hong Kong with the 773. 

    Etihad will be flying AUH direct to Hong Kong as of June 2015. I would siggest the VA29/VA30 service that currently supplements Etihad's service to AUH would be dropped and the available 773 run a daily HK ex Sydney. The connecting service from HK to AUH departs at 19:20 local time, allowing for a comfortable mid-morning departure from Sydney.

    Also allows for San Fran connection through Singapore. 

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23 Jul, 2019 08:59 am

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