Virgin Australia Boosts Short-Haul International Network

Credit: Rob Finlayson

Virgin Australia is resuming more short-haul international destinations this week, and it is also planning for further expansion of its international network later this year and in March 2023.

The carrier is making a cautious return to international flights after restructuring as a primarily domestic operator in 2020. Virgin’s only current international route is between Sydney and Fiji.

However, Virgin is now resuming flights to Bali (DPS), Indonesia—an important leisure destination. Flights between Sydney (SYD) and Bali start June 15, and routes from Melbourne (MEL) and Brisbane (BNE) to Bali are due to relaunch on June 17. Virgin said bookings made in May for the Bali routes were up by 48% from the same period in 2019.

The carrier operated an extensive network to New Zealand before the pandemic, and intends to return to this market in November with flights to Queenstown (ZQN).

Virgin has scheduled a wave of short-haul international routes in March 2023. This includes a service between Bali and Gold Coast (OOL), Australia, which it has not operated before. The flight is set to launch on March 29, 2023.

Samoa (APW) and Vanuatu (VLI) will be added back to Virgin’s network during the same month. Flights from Brisbane to Vanuatu are due to begin on March 10, from Sydney to Samoa on March 21, and Brisbane to Samoa on March 23.

Virgin Australia said the announcement of the Gold Coast-Bali route reflects increasing demand for flights in and out of Gold Coast, and the airline’s growing presence at the Gold Coast airport for domestic flights.

The carrier currently operates up to 180 domestic outbound flights per week from Gold Coast, and bookings on Gold Coast flights were up by 55% in May versus 2019 levels.

Before the pandemic Virgin also operated long-haul international flights, primarily to the US. However, it cut the long-haul routes when it decided to dispose of its widebody fleet as part of its restructuring.

For the immediate future at least, Virgin will offer long-haul connections via its international partners. It is continuing its relationship with partners including Air Canada, All Nippon Airways, Etihad, Hawaiian Airlines and Singapore Airlines, and in May announced it will also partner with Qatar Airways.

Virgin has switched its US partner from Delta Air Lines to United Airlines, in a move revealed in December 2021.

Adrian Schofield

Adrian is a senior air transport editor for Aviation Week, based in New Zealand. He covers commercial aviation in the Asia-Pacific region.