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While Virgin Australia is slashing all its long-haul operations, it is retaining some short-haul international routes as coronavirus recovery continues. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Virgin Australia Prepares For Upcoming Holiday Season

The holidays are approaching, and despite COVID-19, more passengers continue to consider air travel for leisure and participation in the holiday festivities. Virgin Australia officially announced its schedule ahead of the upcoming holiday season — when travel demand usually sees massive peaks — introducing flight resumptions and expanded frequencies for high-demand, domestic leisure routes beginning in November. 

“Australians love to explore and with summer just around the corner there’s never been a better time to holiday and visit loved ones and local businesses while international travel remains suspended,” Virgin Australia Group Chief Commercial Officer John MacLeod said.

The carrier plans to operate five weekly flights from the Queensland capital of Brisbane to Emerald, Australia, while flights between Brisbane and Alice Springs will operate twice per week. Additionally, the Brisbane-based airline will increase the flight frequencies to eight weekly round trips to Ballina Byron, 10 flights weekly to Hamilton Island and three flights daily to Adelaide. 

“The expansion of our network to include Emerald and an additional route into Alice Springs recognizes our long-standing commitment to regional Australia and will deliver choice and convenience for those communities and businesses,” MacLeod added. “The increased frequencies to Byron Bay, Hamilton Island and Adelaide will help the tourism industry to get back on its feet.”

A Virgin Australia 777-300 rests at LAX before its next flight. As part of its restructuring, the airline is retiring its 777 fleet and halting long-haul routes.(Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Virgin Australia’s Uphill Battle

Back in the spring, Virgin Australia experienced financial woes, prompting the airline to scramble and devise a strategy to avoid collapse. As a result, the airline placed itself under voluntary administration on April 21, becoming Oceania’s first airline to fall amid COVID-19. 

However, on August 22, after being in voluntary administration for four months, airline executives unveiled a crucial restructuring plan for its recovery from a slump in travel demand, focused on flight operations, customer service, jobs and future route network expansion. The airline’s flight resumptions and increased frequencies play a significant role in allowing the airline to implement its recent plan to restructure. 

The carrier’s strategy for planning flight schedules focuses on the seasonal holiday travel domestically. As a result, the airline can use this opportunity to accelerate its recovery plans while minimizing any future losses, despite international travel restrictions. 

Though Virgin Australia is not able to use its Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A330s due to the international travel restrictions, the airline will be able to use its fleet of Boeing 737s to operate its domestic network, allowing the carrier to keep its aircraft active. In the meantime, its strategic plan for focusing on the upcoming holiday season serves as its key opportunity to exercise its recovery plan. However, the carrier may need to continue evolving to stay afloat as it works its way through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Benjamin Pham
Benjamin Pham
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