The carrier is also launching new routes, bringing back 220 cabin crew and hiring 150 more as domestic travel demand continues to soar, with more than 80 per cent of the airline’s pre-pandemic domestic capacity expected to be back in place by mid-June.
Virgin Australia Group CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka, said the airline was strongly focused on its domestic recovery program, which includes delivering experiences guests love while providing great value for leisure travellers, corporates and SMEs.
“We are building a strong and disciplined business, obsessed with providing our customers the very best of Virgin Australia travel experiences,” she said.
“More aircraft means more flying, and with easing travel restrictions, there are more opportunities to further support domestic tourism and the nation’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
“Today, we are operating around 850 weekly return flights, and as we approach the June school holidays, we will add another 220 return flights per week to our schedule. By mid-June, we expect to be operating more than 80 per cent of our pre-COVID domestic capacity.
“We’re hopeful that domestic border closures will soon be a thing of the past and are continuing to see positive signs of consumer recovery. As an example of this, we’ve had multiple record-breaking sales days of half-priced fares, with more than 75 per cent of the tickets being booked for travel from May onwards.
“All of this will provide much-needed certainty for hundreds of our team members, who through no fault of their own, were required to give up their jobs because of the extraordinary impacts of the pandemic. We are thrilled to be able to welcome many of them back to Virgin Australia,” Hrdlicka said.
Alongside to 10 recalled Boeing 737s from lessors, the airline revealed the acquisition of further aircraft was under investigation.
The airline said the first three aircraft will join the airline’s mainline fleet this month while the remainder are set to progressively enter service by October.
The Company has also entered into wet lease arrangements with Alliance Airlines to operate Fokker 100 services on behalf of Virgin Australia between Brisbane-Alice Springs and Brisbane-Mt Isa from 19 April 2021.
According to the carrier, the move will allow Virgin Australia to explore more efficient ways of managing capacity and frequencies to support choice and convenience for regional customers.
Using an Airbus A320 aircraft, Virgin Australia Regional Airlines will also move to operate select services on mainline routes between Perth-Darwin, Perth-Broome and Perth-Adelaide from next month.
These arrangements will support the redeployment of the Boeing 737 aircraft to other markets, according to Virgin Australia.
Between now and the June school holidays, the airline is also set to add more than 220 return flights per week to its schedule, offering new and extended seasonal services and expanded frequencies on key business and leisure routes.
Trans-Tasman services to Queenstown are set to recommence for the school holidays on 18 September 2021.
New and extended seasonal services include:
-Melbourne – Hamilton Island (3 flights per week from 08 June to 31 October)
-Melbourne – Darwin (daily flights from 10 June to 31 October)
-Brisbane – Launceston (4 flights per week from 17 June to 25 July) – seasonal extension
-Melbourne – Ballina Byron Bay (5 flights per week from 09 June to 31 October) – seasonal extension
-Brisbane – Queenstown (4 flights per week from 18 September)
-Sydney – Queenstown (4 flights per week from 18 September)
Expanded frequencies include:
-Sydney – Perth (up to 4 flights per day by 23 May)
-Melbourne – Perth (up to 6 flights per day by 23 May)
-Sydney – Adelaide (up to 5 flights per day by 23 May)
-Melbourne – Adelaide (Up to 9 flights per day by 20 June)
-Brisbane – Adelaide (up to 5 flights per day by 20 June)
-Sydney – Gold Coast (up to 9 flights per day by 20 June)
-Melbourne – Gold Coast (up to 8 flights per day by 20 June)
-Melbourne – Sydney (up to 25 flights per day by 20 June)
-Melbourne – Brisbane (up to 13 flights per day by 20 June)
-Brisbane – Sydney (up to 15 flights per day by 20 June)
-Sunshine Coast – Melbourne (up to 3 flights per day by 20 June)
-Sunshine Coast – Sydney (up to 3 flights per day by 20 June)
-Brisbane – Townsville (up to 4 flights per day by 20 June)
-Brisbane – Mackay (up to 4 flights per day by 20 June)
Hrdlicka said ahead of the resumption of short-haul international travel beyond New Zealand, the company continues to consider relevant government and health advice around vaccination and any decisions in line with passenger and crew health and safety.