Aviation

Virgin to launch new routes across Pacific Islands as Qantas applied for Samoa access

Virgin Australia has announced some impressive new routes across the Pacific Islands, as Qantas applies for a slice of the pie.

Virgin will become the first Aussie carrier to offer direct flights between the Gold Coast and Bali, connecting two of the world’s premier surfing destinations from next year.

Commencing on 29 March 2023 and available to book now, services between the Gold Coast Airport’s new International Terminal and Bali will operate daily, with more than 2,200 seats available each week.

The announcement comes as Virgin restarted flights to Bali from Sydney today, with Melbourne and Brisbane to follow on Friday.

Virgin’s CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said the new Bali service reflected the growth in demand for services in and out of the Gold Coast Airport as well as the airline’s expanding presence there, with the new route set to further enhance Virgin’s network from the Gold Coast.

“We are currently seeing continued growth in travel demand for Gold Coast services and are operating up to 180 domestic flights outbound each week,” Hrdlicka said.

“In May alone our Gold Coast bookings were up 55 per cent compared to 2019, with bookings on our existing Bali flights up 48 per cent for the same period and growing every week.

“With the addition of the Gold Coast Airport terminal expansion and demand for Bali rising, the time is right to connect these two famous holiday destinations as well as the surf breaks, wellness activities and nightlife that comes with them.”

Virgin’s short-haul international operations continue to grow, with the carrier also planning to resume services to both Vanuatu and Samoa alongside its services to Fiji, Bali and Queenstown, New Zealand.

Direct services from Brisbane to Port Vila, Vanuatu will commence on 10 March 2023 with up to five flights a week.

Services to Apia, Samoa will commence from Sydney on 21 March 2023 with up to three flights per week and from Brisbane on 23 March 2023 with up to two flights per week.

The addition of Samoa and Vanuatu to Virgin’s network will give holidaymakers a greater choice of Pacific Island destinations as well as provide those wanting to reconnect with friends and family the opportunity to do so as both destinations open to international travel post-COVID-19.

To celebrate, the airline has dropped a Set Your Sights Overseas sale, with discounts of up to 30 per cent on offer for over 70,000 seats on all the airline’s short-haul international routes.

Meanwhile, Qantas has applied to operate a new service between Australia and Samoa which, if approved, would mark the first Qantas service to the island.

Qantas has proposed the launch of direct services from Brisbane and Sydney international airports to Samoa’s gateway Faleolo International Airport, with additional frequencies and city-pairs to be added.

Samoa Tourism Authority’s acting CEO Tupai Robert Ah Sam said Qantas’ application was wonderful news for the nation, as it continues to ramp up its preparations to welcome back Australian visitors.

“The flight schedule will be welcomed by many, as it will allow Australian travellers to cut down on travel time and layovers on their journey to Apia,” he said.



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