Virgin Australia has scheduled a resumption of its Sydney-Abu Dhabi service at the start of September, signalling that the cabin upgrades on its Boeing 777-300ERs will be completed in less than two months.
The return of Virgin’s Abu Dhabi flights was flagged in a note to travel agents, which said passengers booked on either VA29 to Abu Dhabi or reciprocal VA30 to Sydney between August 9 and 30 would be transferred to alliance partner Etihad Airways’ services.
Virgin suspended its three times weekly offering to the United Arab Emirates capital at the start of February in order to reconfigure its 777s with new business class and refreshed premium economy cabins, as well as an extra legroom economy section called Space +. Etihad flies 11 times a week between Sydney and Abu Dhabi with a mix of Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A380 equipment.
So far, three of Virgin’s five 777s have been refitted, with the installation work undertaken at Chennault International Airport in Louisiana.
Flights featuring the new on-board product began on April 30, when VH-VPD operated the VA2 from Los Angeles to Sydney. Since then, VH-VPF and VH-VPH have also completed the on-board upgrades.
The first Virgin service to Abu Dhabi following the completion of the reconfiguration program was scheduled for Thursday September 1, with VA29 to depart Sydney at 1435, according to the Virgin website.
However, Virgin planned to again suspend Sydney-Abu Dhabi operations two months later due to maintenance.
“Virgin Australia wishes to advise trade partners due to heavy maintenance on our Boeing 777 fleet, Virgin Australia will suspend services to Abu Dhabi for Virgin Australia operated flights to/from Sydney and Abu Dhabi from 2 November through to 19 November 2016 (inclusive),” Virgin said in a separate note to travel agents.
“The last scheduled Virgin Australia commercial service prior to the maintenance will be VA29 SYD-AUH on Tuesday 1 November 2016, with the first service post the maintenance scheduled to be VA30 AUH-SYD on Monday 21 November 2016.”