Virgin Australia: New Routes, New Lounge, new business service
CEO Jayne Hrdlicka took over the reigns of the newly reborn Virgin Australia almost exactly 3 months ago on November 20 2020.
Three months is about the time it takes to start bending an organisation to your will, and this is what is now happening over at Australia’s 2nd domestic airline. With a renewed executive team in place, Hrdlicka is rolling out the changes, starting with a lounge opening.
Content of this Post:
Adelaide Lounge opening
Trumpeted (we can use that word again!) as the template for the roll-out of redesigned Virgin Australia lounges across the country, Adelaide has had its new lounge opening delayed by nearly a year. Originally slated to open in April 2020, before Virgin went into administration and then on sale, the lounge is now set to open next week on Tuesday 23 February.
Commentators in the know are talking about a more relaxed design. The old lounge was looking like an escapee of the 1980s, so any upgrade in look, style and service will be a boon. I hope to be able to report directly on the Adelaide lounge experience in March.
With the abandonment of its international division and the restrictions on Australian borders, Virgin is focusing on domestic flying. Australians are spending the dollars usually reserved for overseas travel on domestic destinations, which provides an opportunity for some new Australian routes.
Apparently the holidaymakers of Adelaide and Melbourne lust for direct routes to the Sunshine Coast, and Byron Bay respectively – so Virgin is introducing:
- Adelaide – Sunshine Coast (4 return services/week from 30 March to 25 April)
- Melbourne – Ballina, Byron Bay (Up to 6return services/week from 29 March to 25 April)
Adelaide – Sunshine Coast
|Flt Num||Route||Dep/Arr||Day of the week|
|VA1343||ADL-MCY||1200/1505||Tues, Thurs, Sat, Sun|
|VA1342||MCY-ADL||1545/1810||Tues, Thurs, Sat, Sun|
Melbourne – Ballina Byron Bay
|Flt Num||Route||Dep/Arr||Day of the week|
|VA1196||BNK-MEL||1400/1615||Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun|
|VA1197||MEL-BNK||1110/1320||Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun|
These new routes will start during Easter – in the period 29 March to 25 April, and then may or may not continue
More Frequent flights
Virgin is also increasing the frequency of flights to the following destinations – also starting during the Easter period:
- Hamilton Island
- Whitsunday Coast (Proserpine)
- Sunshine Coast
- Gold Coast
- Ballina Byron (Byron Bay)
You can start booking these routes now, and just cross your fingers that current border restrictions hold, or get more relaxed (Melbourne – I’m looking at you).
New Business service
We are also being promised a rollout of new business catering services for March – or for Easter at least – a post-Luke Mangen offering – so that’s something to be looking forward to.
This will coincide with the introduction of a buy-on-board service for economy passengers.
The fate of the physical ‘The Club’ is still not known, but in a recent email to members of this elite status level, CEO Hrdlicka has assured them that they will still be treated like VIPs with the ‘high touch services’ they are used to. Presumably, that means things like concierge services, greater baggage allowance, prefered seating and family benefits will remain. I wonder if that includes complimentary unrequested upgrades to Business Class like Chairman’s Lounge members get?
The aviation industry has a difficult road ahead when it comes to sustainability. It’s going to require a relative revolution in technology, with ‘electric planes’ or hydrogen planes, or some form of jet engine that doesn’t require a carbon based fuel. And that is going to require the development of an alternative to jet engines probably.
It’s a big ask. It will take time to develop.
This move to home grown and manufactured SAF is a first step – maybe even a baby step in a very long road of innovation. In the long run, US$200 million won’t even touch the sides.
This is a healthy move, that I hope will be rewarded by increased patronage. Of course, if there are more snap lockdowns or other border restrictions, this could all go to hell-in-a-handbasket. But with COVID-19 immunisation starting to be rolled out from next week to Australians, the trajectory looks good.
What did you say?